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HUBRIS AND STUPIDITY: TRUDEAU DOES IT AGAIN

Public office is the last refuge of the incompetent. – Boies Penrose

They are proud in humility, proud in that they are not proud. – Robert Burton 

Frank A. Pelaschuk

Justin Trudeau had it made. He became prime minister largely on his good looks, youth, charm, and oozing, simply oozing, sincerity. He was going to make a change with huge, loudly declared glorious promises, one of which, if followed through, might have changed Canada, parliament and the political landscape for the better forever. For those who wanted to believe in fairy tales, he was Prince Charming, the real deal, the man of vision, the man one could trust to accomplish great things. 

Not surprisingly, that was will-o’-the-wisp wishful thinking, the chimerical promise of the snake oil salesman. The big promises, one in particular, Electoral Reform, did not materialize, being lure to the braggadocio’s strut, the blowhard’s false promise of a hope so many yearned for believing it a remote possibility only to be left with the bitter aftertaste of betrayal upon having it proved true yet again. The pain of disappointment must surely have been acute for those who trusted him perhaps because they really believed in him and in the promise, believed in his claims of feminism and support of human rights, of finally healing the rift between First Nations peoples and Canada. He would help make Canada a better home for all. If so, how much sharper the ache when, put to the test, he walked away from promise after promise again and again beginning with his triumphant declaration that 2015 would be the last first past-the-post election ever and then, upon realizing the keeping of that promise would not allow him the outcome he so desperately wanted, he himself set about to undermine and kill the dream none had called for but fervently wanted saying of its death, “the public had lost interest”. It wasn’t true but we all knew then, or should have, what kind of man he was. 

He’s a feminist. He’s told us that often enough so why didn’t I believe him? Perhaps it’s because of the revelation of his groping a female reporter at a music festival when he was twenty-eight. Or it could be his failure to respond on two separate occasions when asked by reporters to comment on the taped recording of Trump trumpeting his misogyny saying only, “Everyone knows I’m a feminist”. Well, I don’t know that. Saying so doesn’t make it so. We know he is tolerant, anti-racist, and yet has attended events on more than one occasion in black face. No, I don’t believe Trudeau is a racist, but I do believe him very, very foolish. 

Too, his stand on human rights is of great concern. He believes in them as sincerely as Stephen Harper when Harper initiated the Saudi Arabia LAV (light armoured vehicle) deal. Just as did Harper, Trudeau ignored such concerns in spite of UN sanctions and Canada’s own laws regarding international trade with errant nations abusing human rights and Saudi Arabia is one such abuser and in a major way. When taking the moral high road is perceived as imperiling Canadian business interests and Canadian jobs, the moral high-road rarely merits more than lip service by such as Harper and Trudeau. With Harper, there was no surprise in this; he made no pretense of interest or concern in human rights while Trudeau campaigned on the promise of human rights being in the forefront. And then he got elected. If hypocrisy and shamelessness are requisites for a successful career in politics, Trudeau appears particularly adept in the practice of both. 

While no liberal and certainly contemptuous of conservatives, particularly those from the Harper era still infecting the political pool, I nevertheless had hoped for the best from Trudeau without believing we would get it. I could understand his draw and why so many fell for it; I just could not trust what I heard and saw. Sadly, upon taking office as Prime Minister, Trudeau very quickly confirmed my suspicions of him. Straw and empty charm. He believes his own press: he is loved by all and can do anything. Even so, the trail of broken promises in the wake of his first term did have a negative impact on his re-election bid allowing him a narrow victory with with a minority government.   

With all his baggage, I do believe Trudeau wishes to be the man we want him to be: caring, empathetic, sincere, decent, decisive, competent, and successful both as individual and as PM, one who actually will make meaningful contributions to Canada. But, for him, I believe, such traits, which he appears to confidently possess, are merely intellectual adornments, masks to be donned for whatever the occasion accompanied, as always, by the indicators of sincerity, furrowed brows and pursed lips; caring, empathy, and even sincerity cannot be learned but are characteristics bred to the bone. I don’t believe they are intrinsic to Trudeau. There is about him a coldness and calculation that should make those around him wary. He will throw them to the wolves as ruthlessly and as easily as he discarded liberal senators within weeks of taking office when he declared them no longer liberals. It was the loud, grand, even bold, gesture but meaningless and offensive in the publicness of the dismissals. Of his character, it was revealing; not only did it appear to me a particularly cruel way to do what he did, but the exultation he displayed following that was unseemly, his declaration to the world: I can be tough and ruthless as any man! He must have been thinking of Harper. But the move was blind achieving nothing. As easy to have a stranger declaring one cannot love whom one does.     

For Trudeau, there is more interest in the public perception of his image than the fact of it. He is not a bad man, I believe, at least not wholly, but he is too absorbed in the imagining and the work of convincing the pubic of himself as a good person than in the practicing of it. He will pander to all the touchstones that he perceives the public supports as good. If it catches the public’s attention as worthwhile and supportable, Trudeau is certain to be there. He is a politician, after all, with the unerring instincts of the predator honing in on the prey.

So, all the more puzzling his behaviour and involvement in the three breaches of conflict of interests that we know of. How could a man so smart be so stupid? Or am I giving him too much credit?

There was his acceptance of the free helicopter ride for family and friends from the Aga Khan while on a Christmas vacation. For years the Aga Khan’s charitable foundation has received millions from Canada and, following that trip, was promised even more.

Then we have the SNC-Lavalin scandal when Trudeau, a true believer in the “rule of law”, sought to subvert it to save SNC-Lavalin, a Quebec-based company, from a possible conviction for various criminal acts including bribery and obstruction of justice. Because of that interference, the Attorney-General, Jody Wilson-Raybould, the first indigenous woman to achieve this post, was forced to step down because she would not help the company avoid prosecution. This led to the resignation of another extremely competent MP, Jane Philpott, in solidarity of her colleague. So much for his support of First Nations individuals, of feminism, and of the “rule of law”. For that imbroglio, he “refused to apologize for fighting to save Canadian jobs” because that was his job. Yes, it is, but, more importantly, his job is also to ensure the integrity of the courts and uphold “the rule of law” which he clearly sought to undermine and yet always references when it suits his needs.

But the liberal government’s decision to sole source $900K to the WE charity to which Trudeau, his wife, mother and brother have close ties, may be the one straw too many as the Ethics Commissioner launches yet another investigation into Trudeau’s shaky ethical world. Worse, for the liberals, the scandal has ensnared yet another high-profile candidate, the finance minister, Bill Morneau, whose two daughters have worked for the same organization. For both men, issues of ethics seem to be particularly irksome. When questioned whether he or any member of his family had financially benefitted from the ties, Trudeau, as did the charity, founded by Marc and Craig Kielburger, initially denied any such benefit only to recant that a day later claiming there had been an accounting error. Margaret Trudeau and Alexandre, Justin’s mother and brother received close to $300K from the charity. 

That there was no public bid for the contract, Trudeau claiming the WE organization was the only charity capable of distributing the money to student volunteer workers for up to $5K beggars belief. The United Way, for one, has been around for a lot longer than the organization founded by Trudeau friends. That Trudeau did not recuse himself from the selection process by civil servants also forces one to ask: What was Trudeau thinking? Did he really believe no one would question this? Said Alex Wellstead, spokesperson for the PMO, “What is important to remember is that this is about a charity supporting students.” No. What is important to remember is that Trudeau and Morneau did not recuse themselves from that selection decision which liberals claim was the recommendation of public servants. What is important to remember is that Trudeau, Morneau and members of their family have close, at times paid, ties to the charity. What is important to remember is that the selection process was neither open to public bidding nor transparent. And, while it is true that the WE charity refused to accept the funds, that decision was made only following the loud public outcry of disbelief and fury.

I cannot say I believe Trudeau to be a man of integrity. He may wish to be and he may wish us to believe he is but I have witnessed little evidence that convinces. From the first as Prime Minister, he and his colleagues have been plagued by issues of integrity often ignoring and skirting around questions regarding their many numerous and secretive fundraising endeavours at private homes or suggestive of conflicts of interest. Trudeau is flawed but not in the way that induces sympathy or even understanding. He seems to have been made drunk by the adoration of others who have fallen under a spell without understanding there appears to be no real there there. A straw man, he appears to need to be loved and yet would have, as he has demonstrated, little difficulty in throwing those very people who adore him, to the wolves if need be. In that way, he has much in common with Stephen Harper. But I believe Harper understands and accepts exactly who and what he is. Trudeau’s halo has long been tarnished and bent, yet he carries on convinced he is the one who has the attention of the public. He does. Covid-19 has allowed him to shine simply by throwing out billions of taxpayer dollars to the public, to businesses and to charities. Too, with the public preoccupied by the pandemic and all the attendant problems, he might have believed no one was paying attention. He tossed the coin and took his chance. This may be his undoing. 

Maybe the career choice of politician requires risk-taking. That’s a good thing when not foolhardy. Maybe the career choice also requires fluidity in matters of integrity, decency, and the ability to experience shame. If not the case, why have so few in recent years possessed so little of any of these traits? Is it truly all about the main chance?

While I do not share Anne Frank’s generous view of mankind (“In spite of everything, I still believe people are good at heart”), I don’t accept that entry into politics requires a propensity for dishonesty and/or self-enrichment. No one can be perfect but they can strive for it in the choices they make. One can talk of being ethical and of possessing integrity; that is Trudeau. Or one can be ethical and act with integrity. I prefer this camp. Unfortunately, those folks are long gone or no longer hold office. Deeds matter more than words. Ethics and integrity, honesty and decency, pride and humility are not cards to be called up or discarded to suit one’s time or needs. They should flow in the character of the individual as smoothly, as easily and as comfortably as blood through the veins. That is an ideal but that is what we should all strive for and demand of our politicians. 

There is too much venality in politics. Trudeau is just another example of the poor choices we make again and again. Politicians and voters do make mistakes. But when they repeat the mistake again and again, it is a habit and cannot be tolerated. Instead, we must take stock, look more closely at ourselves and our motives as well as at those running for office; we must vote with our minds questioning all the promises and challenging all the appeals to our biases keeping in mind those who, at the very least, have done their best not for themselves but for those who have placed trust in them.

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But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. —  Benjamin Franklin

COVID-19, THE DEATH OF GEORGE FLOYD AND RACISM

Racism is a grown-up disease and we should stop using our kids to spread it. – Ruby Bridges

We have two evils to fight, capitalism and racism. We must destroy both racism and capitalism. – Huey Newton

Frank A. Pelaschuk

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the world in almost all ways. Millions have become infected, and, as I write this, close to four hundred thousand have died. For Trump, this child in a man’s body, Covid-19 is reducible to a racist election blip, a “China” made disease that took American lives. 

It has made us aware of our own strengths and weaknesses and offered insight into the weaknesses and strengths of our varied health care systems. It has highlighted the virtues and hypocrisies of our politicians who, in daily briefings, express outrage and dismay accompanied by loud promises of swift corrective measures to fix the problems, many seemly insurmountable, while claiming to be as surprised as the public by the state of conditions of long-term care homes in which the elderly are shuttered away and who account for the largest number of dead, dying frightened and without family, neglected in filthy cockroach infested rooms, infected by bedsores exacerbated by the piss and shit they lay in as they wait for assist from harried, over-worked, undertrained and too, far too few, underpaid personal support workers. How can you trust the faux outrage expressed by the likes of Jason Kenney when he likens the pandemic to the flu and the deaths of seniors as a natural progression of the life cycle? You can’t. And how about Doug Ford, winning all kinds of accolades for his sombre, level-headed displays during his briefings. You hear it everywhere: Ford is doing a good job. Yes, he is: a snow job. It’s easy to be outraged when there are reasons, and there are: not just the death of seniors but the deplorable conditions endured by them. 

But Ford raising the finger and pointing to health officials, to their failings, gets to be a bit much when accompanied by a rage that never quite rings true. If he were totally honest, he would accept that a large share of the problems in Ontario’s healthcare is largely of his own making. It is also true that the problems are an accumulation of abuse and neglect by politicians who, for decades, have used education and healthcare as political footballs. The two most important institutions that should and must be supported, enhanced, and maintained have, with each successive regime, both been booted about as if unessential, incidental services. One gets the impression, especially regarding health, that all governments, particularly those of liberal and conservative stripes, are bound and determined to kill it by a million cuts in favour of privatization of health care hoping its slow death will inconvenience the public to the extent that it cries, Enough! and surrenders to the American style of care they neither want nor need. 

Almost from the very first, Ford and his government has gone after healthcare, health programs and health workers as if he and his crew held a personal vendetta. No apology for that. No admission over his role in the current state of affairs. Mournful expressions, faux rage ring hollow as do utterances of surprise when, for years, decades, there have been cries from frontline workers that they were being left behind, the system underfunded, over-burdened, under-staffed, and workers under-paid, and under-appreciated. It was this crisis that made governments take notice and that only when doctors spoke out publicly begging for protective equipment so that they and the healthcare community could be protected without risk to themselves and community. 

What followed should have surprised no one. Shock, cries of anger, loud voices raised in high dudgeon, disgust, promises, more promises, fingerpointing, promises. Cheap politicos doing what they do best: perform, outshouting others and promising money, money, money, in trying to save their asses and convince us they, and only they, can make the fix. 

So, who is responsible? Naturally, those cheap politicians, the Jason Kenneys, the Doug Fords, the Scott Moes and the rest of their ilk. But, bad as they are, the greatest portion of the blame must go to the voter who, with very few exceptions, is always eager to suspend his and her incredulity to buy from sleazy charlatans the cheap, shiny promises of tax cuts, more money in their pockets, less government, without ever, ever, questioning where the cuts will come from or what services will be lost. Well, we have a hint now, don’t we, the roosters, as they say, finally coming home. 

And, while it’s true Covid-19 has highlighted the very worst, it has allowed us to showcase the very, very best among us as well. We have suddenly discovered who the truly important folks are. They are not the founders of Apple or Amazon or Facebook. No, the truly important people are those who actually make this globe function as well and as smoothly as it does. They are the workers who are there when you really need them. That includes all frontline workers in health care systems, naturally, but also, the personal support workers, janitors, maintenance workers and cooking staff who keep the institutions operational. That includes municipal workers, grocery clerks, taxi drivers, pharmacists, personal support workers, police and fire men and women. The debt is immeasurable and the list is endless, but the point is, too many men and women work largely unseen, unrecognized, unappreciated and underpaid while living lives of quiet desperation trying to make ends meet keeping families and sanity functioning often working two or more jobs. We love, love, love them today. But, when it’s over, what then? Back to being forgotten, unappreciated, underpaid, still living lives of quiet desperation. 

With Covid-19, lives have been lost; routines in how we shop, communicate, socialize, work, play, and cope with social distancing have been disrupted. Some, doubtless, will have adjusted to and welcomed the opportunity for introspection while others, perhaps, have squandered the opportunity turning towards anger and resentment taking it out on their families and friends. Anxiety and self-doubt may lead some to succumb to fear, to doubt their own common sense and turn away from mainstream media and fact-based science to embrace something more comforting, that aligns with their own biases and superstitions, junk science and conspiracy hokum by those with agendas that thrive on fanning fear, misinformation, hate, and intolerance with a message that we are all victims of others: Big Governments, Jews, Muslims, blacks, Hispanics, and Papists, communists, etc. Name the thing you don’t understand and fear; it’s easier to play the victim, to blame others; you’re not responsible they are.

Of course, the pandemic is a fake event or, at any event, overblown. That’s the message we get from some. For Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s president and denier of global warming and climate change, despoiler of the so-called “lungs of the world”, the Amazon Rainforest, the coronavirus is a minor blip that people should ignore as they carry on business as usual. His cavalier public appearances, unmasked and surrounded by supporters, is apparently an attempt (successful, if that’s possible) to outdo Donald Trump in the area of stupidity in leadership around the world. For Trump, very slow to respond to Covid-19 initially denying it was a real threat, no doubt concentrating on whether he should take insulin, the pandemic is a major irritant affecting the US economy easily solved with a couple of minor fixes: injections of hydroxychloroquine or Lysol. The first, an anti-malarial drug has not been tested for Covid-19 and is deemed unsafe, possibly deadly. In fact, immediately following his first public recommendation of the drug, a couple took up the challenge and died as a result. True believers of Trump, no doubt, and certainly Darwin Award winners. Trump’s recommendation of the disinfectant led to an outcry of ridicule followed by claims from Trump supporters that this was “fake” news disseminated by mainstream media which claim Trump himself inadvertently discredited by saying it was a question asked “sarcastically” to see how the media would respond. Yeah, right. Between Bolsonaro and Trump, narcissistic blowhards who imagine themselves geniuses and god’s invincible gifts to humankind, it’s difficult to imagine any other world leader more dangerous to their own or to the world. In the area of absurdity, neither need fear losing the race. But their words and deeds have consequences that will add to the burden of overstrained systems not only in health, but also in society generally threatening policing, justice, civil behaviour, our vision of democracy, governance and race relations.

Now Trump did not create racism. But he does add elements to it and there are far too many willing to take his lead. He thinks nothing of throwing out muck to see where it lands and what the reaction will be. In 2017, during the Unite the Right rally on Charlottesville, Virginia, when a white supremacist supporter drove a vehicle into a crowd of anti-racist protesters, injuring several and killing a woman, Trump’s response was not of condemnation of the racists and the killing but of soft-peddling what happened claiming the act an “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides”. In other words, the racist white supremacist movement was as much a victim as those injured and killed! With that, you knew where Trump stood and from whom he sought support.  

His image has not improved since Charlottesville. With the riots following the May 26 arrest and public and painful asphyxiation death of George Floyd, black, compliant and in distress, pleading, “I can’t breathe,” his last words, Trump tweeted an infamous phrase dating to the time of the race riots of the 60s by a notorious Miami lawman, Walter E. Headley, during the race wars of the 60s, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Headley also boasted, “we don’t mind being accused of police brutality”. That was in 1967. That’s the thug for you and certainly Trump’s kind of man. Fifty-three years. So, what’s changed? 

The riots that followed Floyd’s death are disturbing, often beginning peacefully in many instances but by nightfall transformed into full-fledged acts of violence, rocks and bottles thrown at police and canisters of tear gas and rubber bullets turned on the protesters. It cannot be stated with certainty but, as with past experiences during peace marchers that degraded into violence, the cause of the turn to violence can be guessed. Outsiders, provocateurs from the alt-right with their own vile agenda of racial and religious intolerance, or just plain lowlife opportunistic thieves, thugs and jerks eager to disrupt and destroy, setting fires to cars and businesses that they loot. For those with an agenda, usually that of whipping up anti-black, anti-left, sentiment to more deeply entrench the impression too many are all too willing to embrace: this is what blacks and the left do, exploit a death as excuse to riot, loot, destroy and kill. It doesn’t help when videos appear lending credence to the stereotype showing thugs, many of them black, destroying property and running from burning buildings loaded with stolen goods. But what does, we hope, are those images captured of protesters, black and white, coming to the aid of two cops attacked by thugs and forming a protective circle around them. Racists will remain unmoved by this, consider such images of co-operative action as blacks currying favour from a liberal society and whites having sold out. 

In some quarters, there is justifiable anger over the silence from the White House following Trump comments that summon up more memories of the race riots of the 60s, threatening to set vicious dogs on the protesters whom he labels as anarchists and thugs; some are, but the majority are just decent folks who have had enough of police brutality, of white supremacists crying victimhood, of Donald Trump appealing to the very worst in voters while dismissing the history and pain of blacks, First Nations peoples and every other marginalized member that makes up America. With Trump, there is no attempt to reach out, to understand, to even appreciate what is happening. When he did reach out to the Floyd family, he apparently thought it a good call calling the Floyds “a terrific family”. But how could he know that when victim George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, stated “It was so fast, he didn’t even give me the opportunity to speak”? 

This is a man with so little in the way of intelligence, insight, ability or desire for self-examination and reflection, he pours gasoline on flames rather than considering the pause button. The rioting following the death of George Floyd, likely exacerbated by the heat, by all the anxiety surrounding Covid-19, the loss of jobs, the forced social distancing, the deaths which seems to target the poorest, including blacks, is likely good news for Trump allowing him to feed the fires of hate and intolerance which seems to be the makeup of a large segment of the Republican base. They are all victims. Lest there be any doubts, he avowed he will declare the ANTIFA (anti-facists), a leaderless movement of anti-fascist activists, a terrorist organization. Evidently the extreme-right, made up of thugs, racists, gun loving, government hating morons have a lot to fear and need protection. With Trump at the helm, Neo-Nazis and fascists need not worry. Even when they practice racial and religious hatred with thuggery, evidently, they’re not all that bad.

The rise of racism is extremely troubling, not because it’s a new phenomenon, it’s not, but because folks like Donald Trump and his sycophantic followers have unleashed the dogs giving permission to others to play the role of victim, to lay the blame of one’s own failure at another’s door often accompanied by disclaimers: “But I’m not a racist”. Of course, they’re not. The fat slob who dragged a befuddled senior in his nineties from a Vancouver corner store while hurling racial slurs was not a racist when he threw him on to the sidewalk. Nor was that punk, Vancouver again, when he punched an unsuspecting woman, another elder, in the head. Nor were Stephen Harper, Kellie Leitch, Chris Alexander, Andrew Scheer, and the rest of the Conservative gang when they promised to pass the Barbaric Cultural Practices Act in 2015 if re-elected. With that act, Harper and Conservative party targeted Muslims fomenting the flames of ignorance, fear, and intolerance. Harper and gang lost that election. Even so, that didn’t prevent Quebec’s François Legault, from pushing for and passing his own law in 2019 targeting Muslims, banning the wearing of religious symbols by public servants. I am confident he would say he is not a racist, as well. They just play to the victim sentiment who want to see the folks that screwed them punished. Naturally racism doesn’t enter into the picture. For the self-pitying victim, little persuasion is needed but affirmation of his suffering pleases. It’s nice to know one’s victimhood is acknowledged: You’re right, foreigners are taking your jobs, getting special treatment as your debts mount and your pain increases. It doesn’t matter that you don’t want to scrub piss from filthy washrooms, don’t want to clean up granny wallowing in feces as she whines and dies, don’t want to work fifteen hours doing farm work, that’s for others; we’ve got your back and just can’t have those swarthy, brown-skinned, foreign-speaking, turban-wearing, barbaric, blood-drinking pagans taking your God-given rights to a job, a decent wage, and our white, righteous way of life! And let’s not talk about our pure, white women which you and I know they all want! 

And, of course, we have another set of losers, the so-called members of the in-cel movement, those self-pitying sad-sack whiners who likely spend their days playing video games and their nights looking at their faces in the mirror and whining about not getting laid. But that’s understandable, it’s not their fault, boo-hoo-hoo. The women today are too picky; they don’t like polite young men who love their mothers (dog, cat, take your pick); they don’t like their own kind, they prefer the exotic, you know, blacks, foreigners, not good-looking white boys like you with your pimply face, whiney lips and snot of self-pity dripping down your shirt. It probably doesn’t occur to these losers that women may, just may, want more than boring, nice, stupid, uninteresting, excuse-making, shy, meek, unambitious, video-playing, self-pitying nerdish victims.   

There is too much time wasted on hate and blame. It’s time we all look at each other, look past the colours of our skins, look towards understanding our roles in this life. Why must we be enemies when friendship can offer so much more including security? What makes you so different from me? Or me you? Of what are we afraid when we look at each other? Why can’t I talk to you or you me without that tightness in the throat telling me I am afraid? And why do you fear me? What holds us back? What can we learn? 

Why should it be so difficult for one of us to say, “Tell me your story and, if you wish, I’ll tell you mine.” 

Who knows, we may have more in common than we believe. But, tell me how others have screwed you all your life? Not interested.

Update: Hours after posting this, Trump appeared on the White House lawn to finally address the interaction between protesters and police. He did not play the role of conciliator seeking a solution or co-operation. Instead, he labelled the protesters as largely ANTIFA, thugs, criminals in the brief statement in which he declared himself the “law and order” president, and that every state would call in the National Guards to impose curfews. Those states refusing to do so would be secured by the military. While this was happening, protesters nearby were forcefully cleared by guardsmen so that Trump could triumphantly walk from the White House to a nearby church where he could engage in a photo-op holding a bible. Not too subtle nor surprising but extraordinary nonetheless. If the black community and supporters hoped for something better, they must surely have been disappointed.

***

But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. —  Benjamin Franklin

DARWIN AWARD WINNERS: MARCHING TO STUPIDITY

 

Here is the true immorality: ignorance and stupidity; the devil is nothing but this. His name is Legion. – Gustave Flaubert

Stupidity is infinitely more fascinating than intelligence. Intelligence has its limits while stupidity has none. – Claude Chabrol

Frank A. Pelaschuk

LILLIPUTIANS

 Anyone watching the prime minister and the premiers offer their daily scrums updating citizens on the status of the Covid-19 pandemic might be favourably impressed. Not only do they come across as sincerely concerned public servants offering images of gravitas that, while sober, is not too much overdone. They mouth the appropriate words of praise not only for all frontline workers in healthcare but also those responsible for jobs most of us take for granted: personal support workers (PSWs), janitorial staff, grocery clerks, baggers, cashiers, bus drivers, well, anyone really, who place themselves out there silently and in the background, keeping societies going while possibly placing themselves at risk and often for little pay. The politicians all appear duly shocked, sickened, and appalled at the daily death toll particularly of the elderly in retirement and long-term care homes. It is as if they cannot believe the carnage caused by this pandemic, as if this is new and never to have been anticipated. They mutter of how changes for the care of our aged and sick must be made in both the public and private sector. They roll out programs, make changes and announce them with each passing day, their expressions suitably stricken. You know they mean it; know they believe it. But there’s a niggling question: will it last?

And then, kind of late, they begin to speak of the poor and homeless. This after they have thrown billions of cash in promises towards keeping businesses afloat through loans, grants, deferred taxes, rent subsidies, money for workers kept on the payroll. The list of aid to business and displaced workers meeting certain conditions is astounding. Then, among the leaders, who, no one knows, one takes notice and speaks of the homeless, of helping them and of course, not to be outdone, the others take up the call. But, as you listen, you realize, if all this money can be found this quickly, at this time, why not before? Why were people freezing to death on the streets, in back alleys? Why are the poor and homeless noticed now when, before this pandemic, not a nickel could be raised to house them? I don’t believe it’s really to find or create permanent housing for them but rather to warehouse them in temporary shelters to ensure these most vulnerable of people cannot spread the virus. These are throwaway people and if saving the economy means keeping them from harm, we’ll do so. When it’s all over, they’re on their own and we can congratulate ourselves on the lives saved as we shovel the meanest and poorest to the streets and back alleys where they belong.

And what of those PSWs who tend to those beloved but elderly folks shipped off into care homes, this largely anonymous hardworking, underpaid cadre of workers holding down two or more part time jobs as navvies feeding, bathing, changing diapers, wiping asses, of those too frail, disabled or demented to fend for themselves? Today they are noticed and daily praised for their courage and sacrifice and willingness to place themselves in danger neither the public nor politicians having noticed before that these very people, so beloved today, have no other option but to survive to feed their families. The truth is, this pandemic has made us see what we have never wanted to see before: there are those who from necessity are not too proud, too full of themselves, to not do what most of us would not.

Oh, yes, PSWs are finally getting recognized for their value. Changes have been made. They can no longer work at different homes where the elderly and needy are. Their pay has, in some provinces, been elevated to offset the loss of not being able to work elsewhere. Will this last? When this is all over, will we remember these heroic people? Will we value them as much tomorrow as we do today? I hope I am wrong but I think not.

In fact, almost all governments, mostly conservative, from federal to provincial, whether electioneering or not, the mantra has always been: cut government spending. And most do, with a meanness, spite and glee that should enrage most, using healthcare and education as political footballs. The public either ignores the cuts or adjusts and only notices at times like this. It’s madness. It’s predictable.

And it’s stupid.

YAHOOS

A sad fact is that, regardless of the situation, whether in political or public life, the stupid will always be with us. We see it in our leaders and the people who support them. Science has been reduced to quackery, history to mockery, and facts to farce.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Yahoos have taken over. They resist authority and common sense swarming on to our streets screaming against measures to eradicate the virus and protect society as infringements to their “civil rights”. They demand that the government reopen the country for business and insist Covid-19 is a “Chinese” disease or, even worse, a hoax, a government conspiracy. They do not explain how that is or why. They are not massive in numbers, but stupidity makes them dangerous. They appear in various pockets across the country waving offensive signs and are a loud, obnoxious bunch popping up in the dozens apoplectic as they hysterically vent the imagined wrongs inflicted on them by Big Government. Everything is a conspiracy, you and I and governments are out to get them. How it is or why they don’t explain, they just know it’s so; their civil rights are being trampled under the guise of health and safety. They are victims. So, they wave placards saying: “Isolate if you want, Freedom is my choice” the crowning touch signs whining about not being able to get haircuts!

The Yahoos offer no argument for their cause, present no evidence for what they say, and none, apparently can see the inherent contradictions even in their paranoia. No one would deny them the right to be stupid; they’ve likely have been so all their miserable self-pitying lives. But no individual “right” can, nor should, be so absolute that it places others at risk and that is what these public Yahoo gatherings do.

But there are also images of sanity, of masked heath care workers in scrubs squaring off against vehicles filled with ugly redneck anti-shutdown protesters screaming that those workers go to China if they want communism. These images of heroic workers standing against stupidity are reminders of another monumental image, that of a lone Chinese man facing off against an army tank in Tiananmen Square in 1989. The tank driver blinked and retreated. That lone man squaring off against tyranny is imprinted forever in my mind! Those health care workers squaring off against stupidity, is another image!  Both then and now, we are offered glimpses of courage standing against brutality and the brute. For the health care workers, I fear their brave stand will come to naught; there is no limit to stupidity. The resistance to social distancing in the name of civil rights is laughable if not imbecilic and self-destructive. For the exhausted doctor or nurse having treated Covid-19 victims day and night and watching too many die who wanted only to live, the temptation would surely be great indeed to allow infected Darwin winners to reap exactly what they sow.

Harsh? Yes. Frontline workers already risk too much; what better cure for stupidity.

Today we love all physicians, nurses, kitchen, cleanup and volunteer staff, grocery clerks, service workers, as well as hydro, fire, police workers and personal support workers while we stay safely at home. But tomorrow? I suspect we will forget all this. We will not notice the grocery bagger unless to complain about how he or she messed the job; we will yell at the cashier who made a typo in ringing up the bill and will spit on the bus driver who refuses you a free ride or demands you put out that cigarette. Life rolls on. Nothing will change.

***

But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. —  Benjamin Franklin

 

 

BLACKMAILING CANADA TO SUBMISSION: JASON KENNEY’S WESTERN SEPARATIST CARD

One of the greatest distinguishing marks of false prophet is that he will always tell you what you want to hear, he will never rain on your parade; he will get you clapping, he will get you jumping, he will make you dizzy, he will keep you entertained, and he will present a Christianity to you that will make your church look like six flags over Jesus. – Paul Washer

Frank A. Pelaschuk

Jason Kenney, premier of Alberta says he is a proud Canadian. But I ask, how can that be true when he foments western alienation squealing victimhood of a cabal made up of a federal government aligned with eastern provinces to rob Alberta blind, to suck it dry, to grind it down and to spit it out. While such claims that Albertans are targets of a vast conspiracy for whatever reason by envious other provinces and a federal government with a hatred for Alberta in particular may strike some as exaggerated and puzzling, there is a belief in some quarters, mostly justified, that Quebec has been conferred a uniquely favoured status above all other provinces by every federal government since confederation, all forty-three under conservative and liberal banners. If there is envy, there is also anger. Alberta feels as if the unloved child neglected and ignored. But it is the east, that is, every province east of Manitoba, and the federal government which resides in Ottawa, that is the source of most of their anger. Albertans feel they are not viewed and treated as legitimate offspring and, of course, they have the likes of Kenney and Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe to whip up the fires of western discontent confirming such while rabid conspiracists, like Peter Downing, the co-founder of the so-called Wexit movement (get it, nudge, nudge?) act as stooges shouting hysterically, “We are going to do for Western Canada, and Alberta in particular, what the Bloc Quebecois does for Quebec. The only difference is that we are cutting the parasite of Eastern Canada off from our necks. We are cutting this parasite off from your wallets” (Maclean’s, Jen Gerson, Nov. 7, 2019).

 

Hyperbolic and disturbing as is the language, what is equally troubling is the anger fuelled by folks seemingly with agendas of their own that appear poorly formed and ill-conceived. For most westerners, even Albertans, I suspect, if asked, they would not be able to offer a satisfactorily coherent picture of what it is they are angry about. Yes, they would be able to talk of jobs lost, of companies moving elsewhere, of people really suffering through hard times. But is that all the fault of the rest of Canada, an indifferent federal government and an indifferent populace? Do those crying Wexit not accept that the times and world is changing and they must also change or lose out? Do they not understand that much of their problems are of their own making and limited focus?

It’s true, we cannot just suddenly shut off the taps to those provinces reliant on oil and gas. But those provinces must also understand that change must take place, is inevitable, if this troubled planet is to survive. If we do not look for other sources of energy, if we do not look towards new models for success, growth and sustainability, if we as a community do not do more towards saving this precious world, all discussion will be meaningless and the end not too far off from now. Turning away from a bad situation solves nothing. Not working towards change but sticking to what we have and know is surrender and suicidal. Blaming others for most of the problems of our own making does little to resolve the fix we are in. Peter Downing and his ilk contribute nothing meaningful nor worthwhile to the dialogue. They feed anger but offer no solution; how does that work for anyone?

For Albertans and Saskatchewanians, most notably with the leadership they have, playing the role of victim is daily fare they wake to and sleep by. That is not an affirming approach to life that adds meaning or hope. Instead of whining, there must be concerted effort to work together to make change that is constructive and rehabilitative. The planet is dying and we must contribute towards its healing. From the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan, there must be more than the whine that they have and do contribute more to Canada and yet their share of the pie is less than that of the others. That is not helpful. We must work to ensure that everyone, everyone, gets a slice of the pie. We have too much of the Kenney, Moe and Doug Ford types who are bundles of festering resentment concerned only with their tiny fiefdoms and feathering their nests rather than genuine leaders willing and eager to work towards a whole, better, more effective nation. We do not need these types with their mean-spirited tax-cutting public-servant-chopping ways and we don’t need citizens whining about paying taxes yet demanding more and more of the services we demand and need. We want it all but too many do not wish to pay their share. We are in it together and it’s time we recognize and accept that. That’s how we survive.

Those who talk of walking away from Canada are contemptible. They have no loyalty except to their imagined martyrdom or despotic yearnings. If Albertans did break away, what then? How long before they once again are moved by that vague discontent but now with their own new found nation, Albertastan? Would there then be an endless succession of fragmentation into newer, ever greater numbers of separatist groups wanting to abandon their ever diminishing newly minted nations with each self-rendering until sundered to microscopic independent cantons eventually reduced to nothing but a vast empty wasteland? One wonders how much of their anger has been thought through. It’s one thing to be angry but it’s another to walk away enraged without a plan. What guarantees will there be that you will be satisfied with your slice of the pie? And what if you get no slice or there is no pie; what then? Empty promises by false prophets lead nowhere.

There are those who decry that Quebec’s Yves-Francois Blanchet, leader of the Bloc Quebecois, a party whose very raison d’etre is separation, seems to get an easier ride than Alberta’s Kenney. There is evidence that may be true, as we see with Quebec’s Bill-21 and its vile racist and religious message and with Trudeau’s efforts to intervene with the rule of law in an effort to have the Director of Public Prosecutions offer the Quebec engineering giant, SNC-Lavalin, a deferred prosecution agreement rather than face trial and a possible criminal conviction for corruption and bribery. Clearly Quebec does appear to receive preferential treatment to save Quebec jobs. For that, the blame rest squarely with weak federal leaders (conservatives and liberals) who continue to pander to the worst in Quebec society and do not condemn that piece of legislation while also hoping to win electoral support by demonstrating a williness to do almost anything, including pervert justice, to save Quebec jobs. Those who have lost jobs elsewhere are understandably enraged with the perception of Quebec’s much favoured status. However, those waving the cudgel of separation, whether in Quebec or the western provinces, to blackmail Canada into acquiescence to demands that are unreasonable and divisive seem guided not by intelligence or belief but by motives absolutely indecently selfish and parochial. While I would prefer the unruly children act like adults to resolve their problems with federation, there is little accommodation that can be achieved if they insist on having their way in everything and are willing to risk independent economic suicide. You can’t force a wayward child to love its parents.

And that’s how I see those folks talking of walking out: Kenney and Moe have no business acting the role of parents when their behaviour is clearly that of petulant children who believe everyone is out to get them.

So, what is Kenney’s plan, really, or even Moe’s, though it seems Kenney is doing the most whining, excuse me, talking? Does he have one or is he just a bag of chinook wind spewing gas that his supporters insist on inhaling as some eternal truth: Albertan’s are getting screwed, the federal carbon plan is a hoax just like climate change, the equalization programme benefits other provinces particularly Quebec at the expense of Albertans who pay more than their share and pulls more than their weight.

Break away from Canada to where and what? Both Alberta and Saskatchewan are landlocked. With whom would they trade and what incentive would the rest of Canada have to deal with the new found State? Absolutely no incentive. How would Alberta, led by a silly little man with no ideas, pay for their share of the national debt before being allowed to leave? Would Kenney and his fellow separatists find the wherewithal to set up its own government, currency, pension plan, and programmes such as healthcare, education, infrastructure, interprovincial transportation, policing, border security? It’s feasible that this newly independent State might be welcomed with open arms with all the baggage of discontent its citizens bring rather than just for its oil resources before Albertans realize that things might not have changed all that much after all. They will not know until too late when there is no possibility of turning back. How long would it be before they begin whining over the same things that caused them to leave in the first place: not getting a larger slice and paying more than their fair share?

Kenney is not a man or leader anyone can trust. He is a man uncomfortable in the presence of truth or speaking it. This is the man who, while in Harper’s cabinet as Minister of Employment and Social Development, oversaw the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) which encouraged Canadian businesses to hire foreign workers at below rates paid to Canadian workers! This until forced to make changes when the news became public. All this to say that Kenney is no friend or ally to Canadian workers or Albertan workers but rather friend and ally to Big Business and self-promotion and self-interest. He certainly is no friend to Canada or even Albertans except as a stepping stone to a creation of his own little fiefdom where everyone will love the man until they wake up and wonder what they had done to themselves.

Kenney is the pied piper to ruin. He is a little narcissist with whine and a fiddle and it’s the people of Alberta getting played.

***

But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. —  Benjamin Franklin

 

THE 43RD SUICIDAL REVOLVING DOOR WALTZ: THE CANADIAN PASTIME OF VOTING STUPID

Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner. – James Bovard

Not voting is not a protest. It is a surrender.– Keith Ellison

Frank A. Pelaschuk

On October 21st, nothing will change. That’s a guarantee. Canadians will vote liberal or conservative but, with recent revelations regarding Justin Trudeau, conservatives may now have the edge. With a few exceptions, voters will look to no one else as they have for 42 elections and one of those two parties will take its place to govern the nation as they have for 152 years. The 43rdwill hold no surprises not even if and when the new party of anti-immigrant sentiments with a membership largely of discontented racial and religious intolerants led by a disgruntled former conservative member of parliament takes a riding or two. If that happens, most of us will cluck, say that’s an aberration, that’s not Canada, that’s not who we are. Others may demur, say It is, but let’s not dwell on it, at least we’re not Americans. We puff up our virtues and ignore our deficits. While I hope not, I know Canadians will vote stupid this time too doing the same old same old saying, perhaps even some believing it, though how if any had a brain, “We have no choice but to vote for one of those two; voting NDP or Green is a wasted vote.” The only thing wasted is the source of such utterances. What makes it worse is we have a system that, in almost all instances if not all instances, permits 35 to 40 per cent of the vote “for” to outweigh 60 to 65 “against”. Yet we refuse to embrace a system of voting used by almost every democratic nation whereby every vote counts. Occasionally, politicians will offer hope of change as did Trudeau then proceed to sabotage the promise, as did Trudeau, when it is apparent the outcome will not go as they would have wished.

With every campaign, the promises are bigger and better than the last as are the lies we swallow and the bitterness we experience with each broken promise and whopper exposed. Nothing will be new, better, more open or more transparent nor will voters experience shame any more than previously for their role in this sham song and dance of the revolving door that allows entry to members of only two parties at the exclusion of all others. Before long, after the results are counted, some may feel used – for a microsec – with the victorious politician claiming vindication while the losers, wounds licked, begin planning for the next kick at the can. Next time will be better, just wait and see. For a spell, voters will plant themselves in a corner and examine the cheap sparkly baubles that bought their votes and be content for a time not wanting to admit to themselves, at first, they’ve been had once again and for so cheaply in the same old way with the very same stale promises and often by the same smooth-talking snake oil tinhorns. When they finally do admit what happened, and when the rage begins to boil, they nod and tell themselves in three, four or five years, they can hardly wait, they’ll do it all again only this time, this time, it will be different.

It never is, of course. We see it now, politicos on the hustings spending billions in promises to be broken and slinging mud. You’ll hear the chorus of voices, liberals, conservatives, greens, Bloc, the NDP, the PPC wanting your vote and donations. But the majority will hear only two and opt for the one over the other. Things will be different. Hope has no more limits than stupidity.

Oh, yes, in your heart of hearts, after ten years of mean-spirited conservative rule, you ached for change, or so you told yourself. You grew tired of Stephen Harper and gang, tired of ten years of endless efforts to slip laws buried into omnibus bills in hopes they’ll go unnoticed and heartily sick of conservative efforts to rig elections with robocalls, of illegal campaign spending, of skirting election laws, of attempts to disenfranchise voters and to weaken the scope of the Chief Electoral Commissioner’s ability to investigate suspected election fraud. You had enough of Harper and Jason Kenney, his then minister of employment, pulling off such stunts as encouraging companies to hire foreign workers under protection of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program at 15% below that of Canadians doing the same work. You had enough of them lying about it and lying to you and you wanted to believe that Trudeau and the liberals would not only be a refreshing change but also new, different, better, more open and transparent exactly as they promised and exactly as Harper promised for all those years before. But in your heart of hearts, did you really believe they were new, better, or held any promise? Or where you simply too scared to look beyond those two parties in whom you have always put your faith and who have always failed you? Could you not even bring yourself to look at the NDP or the Greens, to open you mind and hearts and hear them out, perhaps even believe it possible that, this time, it just might be different? Certainly you’re not tired of saying that to yourself because you’ll do the same again.

Of course, you couldn’t, wouldn’t. You have closed your ears, minds and hearts, ignored your better instincts, preferring the easy seduction of the tried, tired and unfaithful succumbing to Trudeau’s slick charm and boastfully grand promises only to quickly find out how consummate a manipulator he and his crew were and how little they really believed in the vision they offered. Not only did they lie about almost everything, they were often shameless enough to admit they had no difficulty in walking away from some of those promises as the Prince had when he tried to stack the committee looking into electoral reform, “the last ever first-past-the-post” he had gushed 2015. But when stacking the deck failed, Trudeau worked even harder at undermining his own program saying Canadians “were no longer interested” without offering evidence of such. Maryam Monsef, then minister of democratic reform, and her replacement, Karina Gould, were thrown under the bus, Monsef for saying the committee members hadn’t worked hard enough (i.e., to find a reason to offer Trudeau’s preference of electoral reform) which led to a public storm of anger and Gould for finally being the one driving a stake through reform’s barely beating heart after a brief, final pretence of working towards reform. Trudeau was not only unapologetic for betraying the promise, he boasted of pride in doing so at a town hall meeting. Unfortunately, since electoral reform was his baby, the one he was so loud in promising and promoting, he demonstrated exactly what he is when the initiative was killed off. It was not the father, not the creator, who killed reform or announced its death. Instead, he allowed two neophyte members, females at that, to carry that burden and take the fall for its failure. Jeremy Thorpe might have been thinking of someone like Trudeau when he wrote: “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his friends for his political life.” That would not be the last time Trudeau would do such.

In the past, I have posted my long-held belief that the Trudeau the public sees is all façade. I have never believed what I saw and was puzzled why others were so blind. It was not just his reversal on electoral reform but his loud, boastful announcement that electoral reform would happen that set off alarms. There was too much swagger, too much boast, too much smug assurance. I hoped he would let it happen but did not believe he would. With that, all doubts of him as a phoney, if I had doubts, were swept away.

But his secret fundraising meetings, the efforts made to hide them and the lies he uttered to justify them and then later retracted, his lax attitude towards conflicts of interest by senior members of cabinet in contradiction of his own orders in his so-called mandate letters troubled me not only because they happened but because they happened so early into his first term as PM. He was found guilty, twice, of ethical breaches. The had never happened to a PM before. The first for accepting a free helicopter ride from the Aga Khan while on Christmas vacation. Later, we would learn the Aga Khan foundation would receive additional taxpayer funds in the millions for another five years. Then came Trudeau’s efforts to pervert the course of justice and undermine the independence of the Director of Public Prosecutors, Kathleen Roussel, when he sought to pressure the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould, to intervene in the trial of engineering giant and Quebec-based SNC-Lavalin for bribery and corruption. It is this scandal that offered a totally brutal take of Trudeau and the lengths to which he would go to not only ensure the health and welfare of Big Business but also of the liberal party fortunes. Heavily lobbied by the company, Trudeau slipped the Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) into the 2018 Budget. The budget was presented as an omnibus bill a practice made an art by Stephen Harper and roundly condemned by Trudeau who vowed to bring to an end because it allowed governments opportunity to sneak laws into legislation in hopes the public and the opposition would not notice. Well, that was another promise broken and for those with a propensity to do things in the dark, such as Harper and Trudeau, it is an excellent tool to accomplish what you hope no one discovers. As a consequence of the SNC-Lavalin scandal, Jody Wilson-Raybould, in refusing to intervene on behalf of the company because the independent DPP believed there was no grounds to not proceed with the trial, was shuffled to Veterans Affairs. She was the first First Nations member and third female to hold the role of Attorney General and Justice Minister; the shuffle made no sense and surely would risk the ire of the indigenous community. When she resigned from cabinet, she was followed by Jane Philpott, recently appointed as President of the Treasury, in solidarity. Trudeau wasted little time in undermining both women, questioning their loyalty (to him and the party) and their abilities, particularly that of the former Justice Minister. Once again, two cabinet members, again women, experienced the brunt of the fallout, their political careers in tatters all in the service of Justin Trudeau who had lied throughout the scandal about what he had and had not done. Wilson-Raybould and Philpott have survived, their images enhanced. Trudeau? Not so much.

Trudeau has often and loudly been boastful of his feminism and points to his gender balanced cabinet. That’s good. But does that really bolster his claim? Not if one looks at how he treated MPs Monsef, Gould, Wilson-Raybould, Philpott. Nor does Trudeau fare any better when we look back to when Trump’s so-called “Pussy Tape” recording became public during the American presidential campaign. Trudeau was offered two opportunities at the least to prove his credentials as a feminist when asked to comment on Trump’s vile, misogynistic remarks. Trudeau refused to unequivocally condemn them saying everyone knew his approach to feminism. Yes, we do. He uses feminism as a flag to be waved when he stands to benefit. But because he was in the midst of the NAFTA negotiation and knowing Trump’s propensity to strike back, the loud feminist retreated; the flag went to his pocket. Then it gets worse. A news story broke of a past event involving Trudeau and a female reporter. While attending a music festival in British Columbia in 2000, Trudeau, 28, was accused of groping the reporter. He apologized, according to an editorial in a local newspaper, saying, “I’m sorry. Had I known you were reporting for a national paper, I never would have been so forward.”!!!

So, it was wrong because she was a reporter. But it suggests that if the woman had been Ms. Nobody from Nowheresville, he may have acted differently. Well, that didn’t hurt him but the latest reveal from a Time magazine article on September 18, 2019 of him wearing blackface for an Arabian Nights themed gala in 2001, may result in a different outcome. While prompting a response of apology from Trudeau, who did admit to other instances of wearing blackface, this episode has thus far not prompted him enough to do to himself what he demands of Scheer.

Throwing mud goes both ways but shows most noticeably on those who pontificate from some absurd and lofty aerie on their virtues that later prove far less than advertised.

Human rights? Same thing. By Trudeau’s light, such concerns can also be played with. The health and welfare of business interests, masquerading as a duty and desire to protect Canadian jobs, has been and is a major preoccupation for the liberal leader especially if the jobs are in Ontario or Quebec and Big Money is talking. So, it is no stretch for Trudeau to go against UN sanctions and to disregard Canada’s own laws regarding trade with one of the worlds worst human rights abusers by signing off on the Saudi Arabia $15 billion Light-Armoured Vehicle deal involving about 3,000 Ontario jobs. The deal, begun by Stephen Harper’s conservatives, got the liberal pass with Trudeau offering all kinds of phoney excuses for putting human rights on the backburner. When challenged on this, Trudeau, sounding much like the pampered brat caught with his hand in the cookie jar defiantly offered several takes: the deal was already a done deal; my hands were tied by the previous government; I didn’t want to risk Canada’s reputation as a trading partner that can’t be trusted. It’s not my fault, that bad man Harper made me do it.It’s about Canadian jobs and votes and liberal fortunes in the polls, not so much about saving Canada’s trade reputation. Jean Chretien had little trouble breaking a lucrative helicopter trade deal when he was in office. Canada took a hit in penalties with its reputation as trading partner relatively undiminished.

Trudeau knows all the right feel-good buttons to push. He oozes charm and sincerity. But there is a darker, more unpleasant side to him which occasionally forces its way to the surface. And that side is deeply disturbing. I am not convinced he is a racist as some suggest but I do believe he is extremely arrogant and lacks sound judgement and his failures in this have been too many.

SO, ABOUT THOSE OTHERS  

But if Trudeau is stooge for corporate interests while at the same time appealing performer of feel-good slogans and promises for the masses swayed by surface glitz rather than ideas and deeds, if he is a shameless hypocrite with fluid ethics, is Andrew Scheer, Stephen Harper lite, a better option? For ten years, he was a member of Harper’s cabinet and, as such, the most common and best thing said of him was that he smiled at lot. As the Speaker of the House, always smiling, he was less than objective, once even suppressing documents for several weeks, regarding requests from the Chief Electoral Commissioner that two candidates temporarily step down while investigated for campaign expense irregularities. As opposition leader, he has an uncanny knack for bitching about everything without ever coming up with an idea worth hearing let alone even consider. For him, the exposure of the Trudeau blackface photograph must seem heaven-sent offering him the pleasurable experience of schadenfreude. If so, let him enjoy for a bit but he best not rely on that alone to win the confidence of voters to hand him the top job in Canada. For Scheer and the conservatives have filth of their own to shed.

In 2015, Stephen Harper’s conservatives, of which Andrew Scheer was a prominent if undistinguished member, campaigned stoking the flames of fear, suspicion and hatred seeking votes by any and all foul means possible the most notable and offensive of which was the promise of creating the Barbaric Cultural Practices snitch line targeting you know what group. It was disgusting and it was racist. Conservatives clearly had no qualms at the time to appealing to the worst instincts in us and I can recall no conservative voice, let alone Scheer’s, raised in denunciation of such a program. Instead, as we watch Scheer’s campaign during the first week, we see that, again, conservatives have decided wallowing in the gutter and appealing to the worst is better than ideas, light and air. Once again they campaign with the tactics of thugs smearing opponents with stories filled with lies and misinformation when not completely fabricated: Trudeau schmoozing with Faith Goldy, the white supremacist alt-right fan and former employee of the Ezra Levant anti-immigrant Rebel Media; Justin Trudeau prepared to accept child killer and pedophile from the U.K.; the RCMP confirming Trudeau is under investigation regarding SNC-Lavalin. During the Harper years, the conservatives spent too many years in the sewer. Evidently, they are reluctant to leave the warren they call home, though, it must be said, the liberals also seem to prefer muck from the same swamp. The videos of conservative candidates mouthing anti-immigrant and racially intolerant views is the past, made public by courtesy of the liberals, need more than slaps on the wrists. Such views seldom go away, even with maturity. Yet those candidates have apparently received a free pass from Scheer. All they need do is say, “Sorry”. Evidently, it’s okay to be a bigot as long as you’re quiet about it – for now. Hardly surprising from an individual who cut ties with the anti-immigrant Ezra Levant Rebel Media only when he was shamed into doing so. That, alone, should be reason enough not to cast a vote for conservatives.

I have no quarrel with Elizabeth May and the Green Party whom the media insists on painting as leftist and progressive. If that is so, I am Mahatma Gandhi. While I do support her climate change concerns and laud some of her proposals, I find myself unable to trust Ms. May herself. Early in her campaign, when asked whether she would allow members of her cabinet opposed to abortion to revisit the issue, she struggled seeming unsure of her own party’s stand on the matter saying she would because she had no power in the party to whip them or to silence them though she would attempt to persuade them not to raise the matter. Hours later the Green Party issued a statement that there was “zero” chance of abortion being raised even though it was true the leader has no power to whip votes. For the Greens, all candidates must support the party line of the right of choice for women. That May appeared rattled by a question simply presented and seemed not to know her role offers no assurance that her narrow focus is sufficient reason to recommend her to lead a party let alone a nation. I foresee a further unraveling of the Green promise in which so many are willing to place their hopes as she and the party become subject to greater scrutiny. The Greens have been very influential in Europe and have often proven themselves more pragmatic than principled: they make promises from the left but, once elected, often side with those on the right. I cannot trust them and have no reason to thus far.

I have little to say regarding Maxime Bernier leader of the newest Canadian party of bellicose wedge issue politics that draws the self-indulgent malcontents and wallowers of victimhood and haters the way light does moths. It is doubtful that there is a finger pointer, racist or immigrant hater that he would turn away. If Bernier has anything of worth, they are as clear as the mud under the shoes he wears and in the ideas he and his supports espouse. To me, he offers no credibility though I know some yahoos may find his thoughts appealing because, as conservatives often do, Bernier seeks to exploit our worst instincts. It’s not a party of hope or opportunity but of victimhood and despair, anti-government, anti-immigrant, anti-tolerance. Allowing him to partake in the election debate serves no useful purpose but to validate the rampant paranoia of its core supporters.

As for Jagmeet Singh and the NDP, I do have high hopes. The NDP is the party of hope, opportunity and possibility. Though I suspect that, articulate and talented and full of ideas as he is, he doesn’t have a hope of leading the country. Canadians will not say it, would likely even deny it, but many, far too many, will not hear him out, will not listen to him, will not even see him. All they will see is his turban. He and the NDP are full of ideas and almost all doable. True, they will cost money but they will also benefit every segment of society particularly those who have the very least. We all benefit and if it doesn’t’ put money in your wallet as conservatives and liberals promise, it will not cost you as much when your well-being is protected head to toe. With the NDP platform everyone will have a share of a better life and the very wealthy will finally be accountable for paying their fair share. Singh is not a perfect man. I am still unhappy with how he handled the matter of Erin Weir and Christine Moore. Weir deserved better and I hope that day comes. But Singh has been, thus far, the only one talking ideas, speaking of healthcare and societal needs with a real plan to take on climate change, affordable housing, potable water for our First Nations community. I have not seen nor heard him or the party slinging mud but stating facts. That’s legitimate. But look at him and his response when the issue of Trudeau’s blackface pictures came to light. Unlike Scheer, who denounced Trudeau, Singh almost immediately and before the media, addressed the nation rather than Trudeau and talked of the personal experiences and the hurt of being a target of racism. Thus far, he opted to talk of intolerance in broad terms rather than use it as a hammer against an opponent who, years ago, committed himself to doing an incredibly offensive act not once but several times. This is a man who, during the debates and on this terrible day for an opponent, behaved in a way that, dare I say, was prime ministerial.

Canadians will on this 43rdelection be offered the opportunity to commit to real change. They had it last time and many other times in the past. They refused to dare, to challenge themselves and the status quo.

It is not enough for voters to say they want something new, different and better. It is not enough to say you want politicians who are decent and honest. We must seek them out and open the revolving door so that it allows all members from all parties to walk through them. Doing what we have done for the past 152 years 42 times with expectations that outcomes will be different without recognizing other possibilities meets Einstein’s definition of insanity

We imagine ourselves thinking beings capable of change, real change. Let us prove that we are. Look at the conservatives and liberals. Do you feel you are better off? Are you not tired of health and education being used as footballs to be kicked around, tinkered with while the sick and elderly overflow hospital hallways? Why have no liberal or conservative governments moved to provide our First Nations people with better housing and drinkable water? Why have they done nothing about housing the homeless?

Just look at the NDP and Greens but more closely at the NDP. Consider them in their totality. We cannot just go with a party of one issue but a party of inclusion ready to work on all the issues that must be considered for a fully functioning society and a better life for all. The day after the blackface story broke, I received a copy of a Jagmeet Singh letter. I offer an excerpt: “There are millions of people in Canada – kids, young people, newcomers to our country – who have been bullied, hurt, attacked, and insulted because of who they are. These photos bring that into focus. 

I faced racism growing up. And I dealt with it by fighting back – sometimes with my fists. But not everyone is able to do that. Many feel powerless – intimidated into a sense of not belonging.

I want to say to the people who’ve felt that pain – you are loved, you have value, you have worth – and we can and will do better for you.

Today I want to ask Canadians not to lose faith in our great country. The last 24 hours have been difficult and so will the coming days. But, remember this – you belong, and together we can fight for a Canada that rejects racism and discrimination. Together, we can fight for a Canada where we are celebrated for who we are, and where we take care of each other.”

What do you think? Look at Mr. Singh again. Ignore the turban, open you mind and heart and hear him, really hear him. You may be pleasantly surprised if you open the door to the NDP and the Greens. You may also be disappointed but you, at least and at last, will have dared to expand your horizon and see a little more of what good things await you.

***

But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. —  Benjamin Franklin

 

CAUGHT! JUSTIN TRUDEAU’S SHAMELESS, UNAPOLOGETIC ETHICAL FAILURES

Politicians were mostly people who’d had too little morals and ethics to stay lawyers.– George R.R. Martin, Ace in the Hole

I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician.– Charlie Chaplin

Frank A. Pelaschuk

I have said in the past that Trudeau must be the sorriest leader on the planet. I was referring of course to his penchant for apologizing for almost everything. There is nothing wrong with that, but the list seems endless and the act wearying smacking as it often does more of the opportunistic seizing of the photo-op moment than of sincerity. Too, there were moments missed, when he could have, should have, apologized but didn’t. As when he offered the tantalizing prospect of electoral reform and seemed committed to it until caught stacking the deck when he formed the committee to make recommendations. Before long, he began in earnest to undermine the committee when it appeared certain they would make a recommendation not to his liking muttering the public had lost interest in reform and when, in fact, they did make a recommendation excluding his preference of the ranked ballot vote, he drove a stake through the heart of the idea and later, during a town hall meeting declared it didn’t bother him a bit to walk away from it. That is the real Trudeau, the petulant minor figure who, not getting his way takes home the marbles. He’ll apologize when the cause is easy, appealing, and works to his benefit but, when not, will as quickly abandon them loyal to none but one: himself.

Trudeau cannot be trusted with much. His claims of feminism ring hollow to me. It is not enough to have a balanced cabinet. What is important is to stand up when it matters. He failed to do that when asked about a released recording during the presidential election campaign clearly outlining Donald Trump’s vile misogynistic views, declaring everyone knew where he stood and it was not Canada’s policy to comment on American politics. He was given an opportunity to redeem himself later but failed once again using the same words. He failed to apologize then and hasn’t since. Nor did he for signing off on the Light Armoured Vehicle deal with Saudi Arabia, one of the most repressive regimes in the world, turning his back on Canada’s own laws as well as UN sanctions regarding trade with human rights abusers even though he, as opposition leader, hotly contested the deal. Instead, he came up with excuses, much the way a child does, for why he signed off on the LAV deal: the deal was all but done by Harper when the liberals took office; he could not risk Canada’s reputation as a trading partner not to be trusted should he break the deal. That was a joke, of course, we’ve done it before, most recently when Chretien was in office. It was everyone’s fault but Trudeau’s that the deal went through. He had turned his back on human rights, but don’t expect apologies for that. Canadian jobs were at stake and so was big money. Pragmatism must never be hindered by principle.

When the SNC-Lavalin affair broke ending with the resignation of Jody Wilson-Raybould, justice minister and attorney general and Jane Philpott in support, Trudeau, in February of this year, declared his concerns where Canadian interests and Canadian jobs and that her decisions regarding the Quebec-based construction giant, was “hers and hers alone.” But we know now and most suspected then, that that was a falsehood. Trudeau and the PMO exerted enormous pressure on the justice minister to get the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Kathleen Roussel, to drop the criminal charge in exchange for a DPA (Deferred Prosecution Agreement), a clause sought for by SNC-Lavalin and inserted in the liberal budget in 2018 something the liberals did not hide but certainly had not advertised. Not only did JWR refuse to intervene, the DPP making clear they had no grounds to not proceed with the criminal case, she felt compelled to resign when demoted from the ministry she loved to that of Veterans Affairs due to a cabinet shuffle prompted, Trudeau claimed, by Scott Brison’s resignation. For some, that move was Trudeau’s way of striking back at Jody Wilson-Raybould. Evidently you don’t defy the PMO.

If the DPA had been allowed to proceed, the company would need only to admit guilt, promise corporate changes, apologize and pay hefty fines. The liberals say that that is no small thing. They are right, of course, it is no small thing that a government devout so much effort protecting a private company with a history of criminal errancy. It is no small thing that the same company avoids trial for bribery and corruption, avoids the risk of a criminal record if found guilty and, as a consequence, is able to continue to bid on lucrative government contracts.

Once the mud hit the fan following JWR’s resignation, Trudeau was particularly brutal regarding his behaviour to her, undermining her at press scrums by questioning her loyalty, discretion and authority. It was vile and brutal and personal. This from a smiling charming feminist oozing, simply oozing sincerity as he inserted the stiletto into the first First Nations member to ever hold the post of Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada. Even as he was undermining JWR, he claimed, that while he had done nothing wrong, his concerns were Canadian interests and jobs. That’s what he said then and that’s what he said again on August 14. And for that, he said, he could not and would not apologize.

The resignation of JWR led to another in support of her, that of the capable Jane Philpott recently shuffled from the ministry of Indigenous Affairs to that of President of the Treasury Board. Neither women, nor the public, should expect or believe that an apology from the prime minister will be forthcoming. That’s another side to his character: a weak man who wrongs others but is unable to publicly admit to being wrong. Today, he must be truly the sorriest man in the country, not for all the apologies nor for what he’s done, but for the fact he was caught for the second time for breach of ethics and for something far more serious. In the first instance, he was chided but unpunished for accepting free gifts, as the helicopter ride from the Aga Khan to the Aga Khan’s private island during a holiday trip in December 2016 but, in this instance, with the August 14 release of the Ethics Commissioner’s report on the role Trudeau and the PMO played in the SNC-Lavalin affair, for a conflict of interest when he and the PMO sought to obstruct justice by pressuring the attorney general to intervene with the Department of Public Prosecutors regarding the company’s approaching trial. He had sought to obstruct justice, he had lied again and again about his role, he had sought to destroy the reputation of JWR by engaging in character assassination, and, according to the Ethics Commissioner, Trudeau and the PMO, withheld vital information. Michael Wernick, at that time Clerk to the Privy Council, when testifying before the Justice Committee, clearly had abandoned the role of non-partisanship that is required of the job, had submitted testimony but his replacement, Ian Shugart refused to hand over vital documents citing cabinet privilege. The commissioner, Mario Dion, stated in his report, “The authority of the Prime Minister and his office was used to circumvent, undermine and ultimately attempt to discredit the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions as well as the authority of Ms. Wilson Raybould as the Crown’s chief law officer.”

Following the release of the report, with Scheer screaming in the back-, fore- and all grounds as usual, Trudeau told reporters he accepted responsibility but took exception to some of the findings which is risible since any adult with a modicum of integrity, pride and intelligence, would not accept blame if he had done nothing wrong. Yet, while publicly accepting responsibility, saying the buck stops with him, he had told the Ethics Commissioner the exact opposite, saying he could not be held “vicariously” responsible for the acts of his staff and advisors. Which Trudeau statement should we accept? Conflict of interest and obstruction of justice. This is serious stuff. This is a sign of a government in a crisis of its own making. Pride, shamelessness, duplicity, ethical misconduct, corruption and simple lying seem to be routine accepted practice by this government. This is the Trudeau who promised to do things differently, to be better and to be more transparent than the previous regime. Well, the previous regime under Stephen Harper promised the same thing exactly as Scheer does today. The liberals and conservatives are two faces on the same coin. Nothing differentiates one from the other because their interests are exactly the same: getting power and holding on to that power by any and all means. Your interests only match theirs until the vote is counted.

From the time Canada became a nation, only two parties have ever governed federally. What the hell are Canadians afraid of? Do we lack that much character, that much intelligence, that much courage that we are afraid of trying something different, new, perhaps even with the real risk of being better?

Shortly after the report was released by Mario Dion, Trudeau said he can’t apologize for standing up for Canadian jobs because “that’s what Canadians expect him to do”. Really? At what cost? SNC-Lavalin is a serial offender and governments at every level seem determined to forgive and help this corrupt company break the law again and again even going so far as to make illegal donations to political parties (since reimbursed by the liberals and conservatives). Does Trudeau really believe Canadians are that indifferent to corruption, cronyism, and bought political favours that they would approve his assisting Big Business get away with taunting, flaunting, and flouting of the law when not too long ago he was bragging about how he was upholding the “rule of law” with the arrest of Huawei executive on behalf of the USA extradition request. This is less about protecting jobs than about getting re-elected by pandering to the Quebec electorate. You do not aid and abet a company in its criminality. If you do it once, why not do it again? And if they can get away with bribery and corruption, what about cutting corners regarding issues of safety of the projects with which they are involved? Trudeau apparently is untroubled by such concerns. He is more preoccupied with the liberal party fortunes and the health and welfare of business interests than that of Canadians; I know it, so does he, and so should you after seeing him in action as prime minister.

Trudeau is an oleaginous liar, he is an opportunist, he is hypocritical, he is craven, he is unethical, he is a zero, the inveterate unrepentant diminished Prince of Promise who has joined the conservatives in the home that offers them the only true comfort from which they derive pleasure: the sewer. Liberals and conservatives, sewer rats, have failed us time and again. Voters have made that possible simply because they have refused to switch on their brains and THINK.

SNC-Lavalin did not threaten to leave Quebec or Canada if the DPA was not allowed; yet Trudeau seems to suggest otherwise. He knew better but sought to blur the lines in hopes we didn’t. If Trudeau truly believed in the rule of law, he would not have intervened as he has. With him and others in positions of power, it is as many have always suspected, when it comes to the justice and business: there are two sets of books with two sets of rules.

***

But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. —  Benjamin Franklin

JASON KENNEY’S DANGEROUS GAME

I once said cynically of a politician, “He’ll double cross that bridge when he comes to it.”– Oscar Levant

Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.– Nikita Khrushchev

Frank A. Pelaschuk

What does it take to be a politician? Evidently not much these days. It probably helps if you are confident, glib, articulate, convincing, and ruthless. Honesty, integrity, decency, the ability to experience shame, judging from those who hold office, are clearly not required nor, it seems, is a particularly intelligent electorate.

Those seeking political office must have a thick skin to accompany the essentials of running because, should those essentials trip them up, they must be nimble enough and convincing enough to defend themselves without appearing to do so; to act otherwise undermines credibility. The essentials of any successful political life require the willingness and ability to lie with ease and without qualm. Of course, with lying, one must also be able to wear several faces, all of them hypocritical and not be too wedded to such foolish high-minded notions that voters alwaysknow best, are wise and good. They don’t and aren’t. A good politician reminds himself of this fact many times and sometimes even allows himself to go further but neverpublicly: he’ll tell himself voters are largely stupid and can be easily manipulated provided he, the politician, sound as if he believes every word he is saying. He doesn’t have to but it helps. Essential as well is the ability and willingness to exploit and manipulate others; this requires a certain ruthlessness and mean-spiritedness which must be used sparingly but, when necessary, without hesitation. No good politician should be wedded to promises, party platforms or to such lofty airy-fairy things as morality or integrity both of which, while occasionally an asset, more often than not prove hindrances to the truly important goal: getting elected and keep on getting elected. It’s best for the politician to be adroit thereby allowing him or her to easily switch sides loving what your opposition hated and hating what your opposition loved (that’s where the several faces can be particularly useful). It certainly helps to come across as a sympathetic, sincere and interested individual even as the voter bores the politico with his latest health issue, worries about crime in the neighbourhood and high number of illegal dark-skinned foreigners sneaking into the country; tell them what they want to hear, works every time! A politician must never be afraid to admit to being wrong or say he is sorry. Trudeau must be the sorriest Prime Minister of any nation and, while it was endearing at first, it has become wearisome and smacks of insincerity. Regardless of the occasion, the politician must be able to look the voterin the eye and speak with the utmost genuineness without sounding earnest whether lying or not; if he can’t work up the charisma factor all that easily, it also helps to come across as the slightly nerdy shy “aw shucks” head-down-shoe-scuffing-the-ground type of guy or gal who everyone thinks is cute as hell and someone they would want to marry their son or daughter and even consider voting for.

There is, of course, another type for whom some fall: The Snake Oil huckster. He is the smooth, grinning, brash, fast-talking, looks-you-in-the-eye type who can convince you that Sunday is for dancing and sin, Friday nights for praying for world peace, and that children never lie before he takes his leave of you – once you’ve paid for the snake oil and then find your wallet picked after he’s out the door.

Jason Kenney is that type of politico, a huckster who will do and has done anything to win including joining forces with kamikaze party leadership aspirants (those candidates who withdraw midway a campaign and throws support to another), one of whom paid a hefty fine for taking the part while Kenney, unsurprisingly, denies knowing anything about it though some involved in the matter say otherwise. Just one day after the Alberta election commissioner announced that he was still under investigation for several other questionable practices during the 2017 leadership campaign to head the United Conservative Party, Kenney, clearly unhappy, has none to subtly suggested that no department including the commissioner’s was immune from budgetary cuts. The message could not be any more clear nor our sense of his character.

Anyone who has followed his career over the years knows that he is a sincerely ambitious politico with the gift for gab, bafflegab and gas in equal measure who lies with absolute shameless ease, has rather fluid ethical standards and absolutely no loyalty to anything but that which furthers his personal agenda.

No one should have been surprised when he rolled back the NDP minimum wage from $15 to $14. You see, he’s had practice in undermining Canadian workers while in the role of employment and social development minister in the Harper government. While both proclaimed their primary concern was the creation and protection of Canadian jobs, Kenney, as the minister in charge of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP), you know, the program that encouraged, actually encouraged, Canadian companies to hire foreign workers at 15% below what Canadian workers were paid. We all recall the RBC episode where Canadian workers trained foreign workers who then returned to their countries of origin taking with them the very jobs Canadian workers, now unemployed, had trained them to do. Good for business. Good for foreign workers. Not so good for Canadian workers. This is the kind of man Jason Kenney is. He cannot be trusted to be on your side unless you are Big Business or unless you can be used as a wedge to his advantage. It was the Harper regime, of which Kenney was a member, that campaigned on a racial and religious agenda targeting the so-called Barbaric Cultural Practices of Muslims. So, it is not surprising that members of his United Conservative Party campaign team included those with homophobic, anti-Muslim, views. Two of them, Caylan Ford, who had been recruited by Kenney, and Eva Kiryakos, resigned while incumbent Mark Smith with a rather peculiar take on homosexuality stayed on and won which says a lot about those who support the Kenney’s UCP.

But there he is today in a video suggesting that if Trudeau were reelected, he’d be willing to lead the charge to the road of separation. That he would raise separation as a tool in an attempt to blackmail Canadians into voting for Andrew Scheer and the federal Conservatives says all you need know about Kenney and his professed love of country: anything goes. He is an extremely adept campaigner and now, as premier of Alberta, has set himself the goal of working towards Trudeau’s ouster by any means though I suspect not all Albertans would support the threat to pull out of the confederation. Such a move could well provide him with a victory that was pyrrhic. For those who find Doug Ford and Donald Trump appealing, Kenney is a shoe-in and talk of separation is the stunt of one who thinks too highly of himself; if he were a twin, he would go at it 24/7.

This is a man who, while campaigning in 2016, photoshopped an image in which he appeared. He removed the background and replaced it with an image of an adoring crowd behind him. He loves working with images almost as much as he loves his gas. He’s the same man who, in 2015, during International Women’s Day, tweeted support for the war against ISIS with the inclusion of two photos, one purportedly of a bound, weeping child bride and her adult husband and another of black clad women in chains. Of course, as with many things with Kenney, they were bogus and he knew it. The first picture had been widely discredited as fake and the other was a reenactment of an event dating back many centuries. For Kenney, it’s the impact of the message; truth is immaterial if it doesn’t help his cause.

To give him his due, he is ever resourceful. In the past, he had used his ministerial letterhead to fundraise for Harper’s Conservative party, a no-no, and once, in a fundraising letter, he sought to suggest Justin Trudeau held a sympathetic soft-spot for terrorist when visiting the Montreal Al Sunnah Al-Nabawiah mosque identified by American intelligence as a recruitment centre for Al-Quadi terrorists. While it was true that the U.S. Military considered the mosque a threat and that Trudeau had visited it, Kenney wilfully omitted two important items. When Trudeau had visited the mosque, it had not, at the time, been considered a threat by American intelligence and Kenney himself had taken some heat for visiting an Ontario Islamic centre facing the same accusations of terrorist recruitment. Jason Kenney knew exactly what he was doing and what to ignore. It was malign and typical of him. While I have no affection for Trudeau, I have even less for conservatives and for malicious liars and Kenney is that.

His efforts to reawaken the East-West divide with separatist talk is shameless and unconscionable. It’s a dangerous ploy and serves no one’s interest other than Jason Kenney’s and appeals to none but the simpletons in the conservative base who do form a significant number. No one, especially a leader of a party and of a province, can honestly claim to love his country yet hint at walking away unless Trudeau loses the election this fall. Liars can. Dishonest people can. Manipulators can. Jason Kenney can.

Jason Kenney, Doug Ford and Donald Trump have won the support of voters largely by preying on their fears, their superstitions, their ignorance and their stupidity by enforcing and legitimizing their belief of victimhood with assurances that their fears are real and that they are, indeed, under siege by dark skinned peoples with strange clothes, strange customs and unholy religions with sinister plans.

This is vile stuff and dangerous. This is Kenney. And this is the conservative worldview.

***

But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. —  Benjamin Franklin

CHEAP POLITICOS AND GOOD COMPANY MEN (AND WOMEN): POLITICS HIJACKED BY NEO-LIBERALS AND RACISTS

I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.– Leonardo da Vinci

The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell. – Confucius

Frank A. Pelaschuk

While we might believe or hope it otherwise, politics is not a career for grownups with character. Character requires integrity and the ability to experience shame. We see little of that from members of the two major federal parties and their leaders, Justin Trudeau and Andrew Scheer. Jagmeet Singh, of the NDP, and Elizabeth May, of the Green Party, have not had the opportunity to prove themselves before the voters as members and leaders of a governing party. Maxime Bernier, one-time Harper conservative and so-called libertarian and leader of the portentously and somehow ominously named Peoples’ Party is a panderer of the worse sort, appealing mostly to the simplistic laissez faire mindset of the extreme right who often draw support, as do most conservative groupings, from the racist and religious bigots in the brutish white supremacist movement.

It is not just that folly, farce, pride, greed, ambition, pettiness, hypocrisy, vice, and venality all too often come into play in the service of special neo-liberal interests, it is that whole governments all too frequently can be bought to heel in the service of those special interests placing in jeopardy the very institutions meant to safeguard the nation and its citizens. Trust in a politician or a party is almost always misplaced and inevitably ends in betrayal. It happens because, while a very few provinces appear more open to change, federally we limit ourselves to inviting into our house and handing the keys to the only two parties we have since Canada became a nation. Others knock at the door pleading just to be acknowledged, listened to and heard; to them, NDP and Greens, thus far, we remain deaf, dumb and blind at the time we should be most receptive unable to adjust our thinking or break the stranglehold of the liberals or conservatives. It is foolish, if not insane, that we play along with the game of hope and betrayal in the full knowledge that the parties to whom we pass the keys can be trusted only to betray us and yet refuse to even consider the possibility of the NDP, my preference, or the Greens, proving more capable, more trustworthy, more reliable. Until that happens, and though I do believe it mostly true of the liberal and conservative parties, I cannot side with the cynics who insist of politicians: They are all the same.

They may be, I’m just not certain.

Still, when I look at those conservative leaders, Andrew Scheer, Doug Ford, Scott Moe, Brian Pallister, Jason Kenney, Blaine Higgs, I cannot help but despair. These folks, with their parochialism, their closed mindsets regarding the environment and social responsibility, their willingness to appeal to the worst of us with messages of racial and religious intolerance are representatives of the truly ugly underbelly of Canadian society. They are spiteful, petty, amoral, ideologically partisan, and dangerously blindly angry people preoccupied with achieving power and tearing down the accomplishments of their opponents regardless of how good, intelligent, successful, popular, and sanesimply because these fail to mesh with their blighted philosophy of angry, bitter, victimhood. Further evidence, if any is needed, that it is not just cream that rises to the top.

So, sometimes even doing so sick at heart, we vote for conservatives and liberals, occasionally vaguely aware that there are other parties out there but dissuaded from considering them with messages that voting for one of them will split the vote and lead to the victory of the party and leader you dislike most. Is that really how we should vote? For conservatives, federally and provincially, governance is simply opposing every progressive idea out there, especially those ideas coming from the federal liberals. That’s the mindless hysteria of the truly desperately stupid.

This tactic works well with the soft voters of no deeply held ideological bent and no fixed loyalty to either conservative or liberal and who have, perhaps, even boldly in the past, voted for the NDP or Green Party. We vote as we do often because we buy the message of fear and tell ourselves: Maybe it will be different this time.Of course, in our heart-of-hearts, we know it won’t be. It’s silly, stupid, destructive, this wistful faith. Only sometimes it does work out, the voter is rewarded. It doesn’t happen often; the rigged slot machine that wins; the player gets the noise and flashing lights and a few coins but it’s the house that walks away with the purse. If there is any real public benefit, it is likely accidental, very little and always crafted in such a manner to assure the beneficiary gaining most is the governing party and those special interest lobbyists to whom those conservatives and liberals are so closely wedded.

GOOD COMPANY MEN (AND WOMEN)

Politicians are cons. Every word they utter must be taken with a grain of salt for they can lie as easily and smoothly as any huckster defrauding Aunt Nelly of her life savings. Every promise made must be greeted with skepticism. Voters are pawns, props for politicians and fodder for special interests. Politicians are users, manipulative, liars, evasive, hypocritical, dull, stupid, dishonest, and always, always, shameless gasbags. Watch Question Period in Parliament. They seldom if ever answer a question directly put to them in many iterations by members of the opposition. When they do so, the response is a circuitous and lengthy non-response or, when read from a script, repeated so often the benumbed viewer is able to offer the response as fluently and as cleverly as that ignoramus blowhard he is looking at.

Politicians will portray themselves as different from those of other parties. That’s true but the differences are often too slight their tastes, loyalties and ideas making it almost impossible to differentiate one from the other.

Stephen Harper’s governance was heavily criticized by opposition members for its reliance on and use of omnibus bills in which legislation having nothing to do with the bill was quietly slipped in with the hopes they would escape notice of the opposition and the public. Harper’s conservatives, with Pierre Poilievre leading the charge as Minister of Democratic Reform, introduced the Fair Elections Act (George Orwell?) which not only sought to erode the power of the Commissioner of Elections to investigate campaign irregularities and, even more egregiously, to disenfranchise thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of transient voters, including students away from home, members of the First Nations, and the very poor unable to secure fixed, safe, affordable accommodation. The theory was that these people did not vote conservative. Harper and crew, you see, were not content with just using robocalls to misdirect people to vote at non-existent polling stations but also to divert funds between ridings to hide illegal expenses. Now that Justin Trudeau’s liberals are in power, omnibus bills seem a good idea. For politicians, especially the knuckle and dime variety like Scheer and Trudeau and the provincial princelings mentioned earlier, a good idea is a good idea even if it’s probably not good for democracy and benefits no one but the governing party and special interests to whom so much is owed. But that’s likely true of most of us without character.

It was Harper who initiated the Light-Armoured Vehicle deal with murderous Human Rights abusing Saudi Arabia even though it contravenes UN and our own Canadian laws regarding international dealings with such nations. While the NDP vehemently opposed the deal, opposition liberal leader Trudeau, while declaring reservations, could not bring himself to state he would cancel the contract worth $15 billion and 3,000 Canadian jobs. Just as well he did not, his supporters would then have had another reason to be disappointed in him. In spite of Trudeau’s tepid views and the harsh criticisms from the NDP and Human Rights activists and our own laws, Harper remained undeterred. This was business after all and he’s nothing if not a good company man.

But, out of office and replaced by liberal Trudeau, there was solace for Harper and the conservatives if not validation for their stand on corporate interests versus Human Rights. Trudeau was on the same page. It’s easier to talk about principles than having to live them. His government signed off on the LAV deal with Trudeau falsely claiming he had no choice, it was a done deal, his hands were tied and, even if he could intervene, Canada’s reputation as a reliable trading partner would lie in ruins. These were excuses, not reasons and none of them were valid. Trudeau, too, could be a good company man. Which goes to show that self-interest is a greater incentive than lofty ideals.

While it is true many had doubts about Trudeau, they were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. It didn’t take long to be tested again and again. He was not above accepting free, illegal gifts or flouting his own conflict of interest mandate edicts in letters to his ministers. Over the 2016 Christmas holiday with family and friends, he accepted a free helicopter ride from the Aga Khan. Coincidentally, it was announced that Canada, a major contributor to the Aga Khan Foundation since 1981 to the tune of $330 million, would donate another $55 million over the next five years.

More egregious were the many lies, denials, justifications, and final admissions of his many secret fundraising events attended by the well-heeled with claims that business matters were never discussed, that those doing or wishing to do business with the government were instructed to go through the proper channels, and that he, Trudeau, seldom knew beforehand who attended those events because he would often drop by at these private events without notice. That last is not credible if only because of security concerns. At one of these events, as reported by Globe and Mail’s Robert Fife and Steven Chase, April 7, 2017, 32 Chinese business men, a few of them billionaires, were in attendance. One of them was insurance mogul Shenglin Xian, founder of Wealth One Bank of Canada and president of the Shenglin Financial Group Inc. Shortly after that fundraiser, Wealth One Bank was given the final okay to open up a federally chartered bank in Canada.Too, weeks later, Mr. Zhang and another businessman, Niu Gensheng donated money parceled out to the university of Montreal and the Trudeau Foundation to the tune of $1 million. Coincidence? Questionable. But it was not just Trudeau but also his cabinet members holding such events with the well-heeled sponsored by drug and other companies, cronies and acquaintances in the business world not only enriching the liberal coffers but also rewarding those benefactors. Good company men are not only rewarded, they also give back.

On May 8, 2019, the case of breach of trust against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, charged with leaking information regarding the procurement of a supply ship for the Royal Canadian Navy, was stayed after two-and-a-half years, his reputation and career apparently in tatters. This was a case involving political interference, not only in the procurement process pitting the Davie Shipbuilding company based in Quebec which had won the sole-sourced contract under Stephen Harper effectively shutting out other bidders including the Irving Shipbuilding company in the east coast, and favoured by the liberals, but also in the judicial process, the government refusing to release documents to prosecution and defence. The charges came about because someone had leaked at least 12 times, the majority during the Harper years, that the Davie contract would be placed on hold and reviewed by the PMO, evidently at the insistence of Scott Brison, then President of the Treasury Board, with close ties to the Irving family. The liberals were not happy at the revelation and, embarrassed, quickly approved the original Davie deal to forestall accusations of political interference. Too late. The damage was done and someone would pay and it would be Norman even though it was determined by the Privy Council Office that at least 73 others were aware of the outcome of the November 2015 liberal cabinet meeting regarding the matter. It was a letter written sent to the House defence committee by three conservative and one NDP MPs accusing the PMO of political interference, that may have precipitated the stay when Norman’s defence raised questions about what they knew. Shortly after this, the prosecutor determined there was not reasonable expectation of conviction and, following that decision, former cabinet minister, Peter MacKay, stated that Norman had been authorized by the government to speak to Davie Shipbuilding and therefore could not be guilty of leaking to the company. The curious thing is the RCMP investigating did not interview any of the 73 witnesses. That is an astounding investigative lapse and needs to be looked into but begs the question: Why had conservatives, knowing this, waited this long before stepping forward on their own to clear Norman whose only crime, apparently, was a desire for the Royal Canadian Navy to get its much-needed ship? The behaviour of the liberals seems purely political but what of the delay by the conservatives who might have spared Norman many months of hanging in the wind? It seems to me they were making political capital from the very victim they were purportedly and loudly defending! (For the list of names, refer to the David Pugliese Dec. 4th, 2018 piece for the Ottawa Citizen (https://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/the-mark-norman-files-the-official-list-of-those-who-knew-about-cabinet-discussions-on-supply-ship-project).

There are many questions remaining regarding this issue, not only with the role Trudeau’s liberals played but also by the role Stephen Harper’s conservatives played in changing the procurement rules from open bidding to sole source a fact that opposition conservative critics curiously gloss over. Harper was clearly playing for the Quebec vote just as Trudeau was the east coast vote. For Vice-Admiral Norman, whose only crime seems to be concern for the welfare of the Canadian navy, Trudeau’s role would prove itself to be as brutal, vindictive and, ultimately, inept as the Harper regime in its heyday.

But there is another matter that is equally troubling could prove fatal to Trudeau’s reign. Again, Scott Brison was to play a pivotal role and that was with his resignation who, according to reports, wanted to be with family. The departure of Brison triggered a cabinet shuffle leading to a surprising move of one MP to another cabinet post who, clearly disgruntled, tendered her resignation in a public forum setting off a scandal with suggestions of political and judicial interference by the PMO. This, of course, is the matter of Jody Wilson-Raybould and SNC-Lavalin, a Quebec-based construction giant facing charges of corruption and bribery which has had Trudeau and gang behaving in ways resembling that of cheap politicos owing favours which is exactly what they were and are. Not only did the liberals bow to the lobbying efforts of SNC-Lavalin by inserting a DPA (Deferred Prosecution Agreement) clause in the omnibus 2018 Budget, they sought to undermine the independence of the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) by pressuring Jody Wilson-Raybould, at the time Attorney General and Justice Minister, to lean on Kathleen Roussel, the DPP, to stop the proceedings against the company that faced the possibility of a criminal conviction that would bar it from bidding on lucrative government contracts for ten years. While claiming his primary concern was preserving 9,000 (mostly Quebec) jobs, the PMO denied judicial interference: no one, they claimed, had “directed” her to intervene in the trial. For days Trudeau and cabinet members would use that word. She was never “directed” to intervene in the matter. That’s legalese or, as some might say, legalese for weasels. What we are to infer from that is that Jody Wilson-Raybould, as independent Attorney General, could independently conclude Canadian interests might best be served through the use of the DPA. While I may believe he was concerned about possible job losses, Trudeau and his liberals were likely more focused on last year’s Quebec election and this year’s federal election. The liberals would not want a Quebec-based company to be negatively impacted especially during an election year particularly if there were threats by the company to move its headquarters elsewhere. Clearly unhappy with the letter of resignation after her move to Veterans Affairs, the PMO engaged in a smear campaign against the former AG seeming to question her loyalty, her role as minister, as leader, and as boss. The public did not buy the unseemly and unfair attempt to smear her any more than they bought the charge against Vice-Admiral Norman apparently under the apprehension that bullies playing the role of good company people were working to protect Big Business and the PMO with claims that DPAs are used in other jurisdictions and that it is legal (even though, in this instance, lobbied for by the very company under investigation).

With the DPA in place, all the company had to do was admit wrongdoing, pay a hefty fine, reorganize the company structure and reimburse any illegal benefits. Jody Wilson-Raybould refused to play along saying the DPP as an independent body had made its decision. That was the right, decent, required move. The fallout of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s resignation resulted in the resignation in solidarity of the very capable Jane Philpott. She had recently been shuffled to the position occupied by Brison, that of President of the Treasury Board. Fallout from this debacle resulted in the early retirement of Michael Wernick, Clerk of the Privy Council, and resignation of Gerald Butts, Trudeau’s lifelong friend and Principle Secretary so as not to be a “distraction”. While it’s difficult to accept that it may happen with all the attendant negative publicity, it’s very possible that SNC-Lavalin, a company with a dark and checkered history, might still benefit from the DPA it fought so hard to pass into law. Further to this story, it recently came to light that SNC-Lavalin, hoping to influence the outcome of elections between 2004 and 2011, made illegal contributions to the liberal and conservative parties by having employees make donations as if their own and then reimbursing them. Canada’s election commissioner at that time, Yves Côté, offered no punishment for the criminal acts by the company executives eliciting from them only the promise to sin no more, an option denied conservative Dean Del Mastro charged with breaching the Canada Elections Act during the 2011 elections for which he spent a month in jail, four months of house arrest, and eighteen months of probation for doing the very same. Now I have no sympathy with Del Mastro for whom I have no liking, firmly of the belief he deserved even more time in jail. But he is right when he whines that SNC-Lavalin, a serial offender, got off scot free. The company, protected by politicos, has not only been given too many breaks only to reoffend rather than reform, it apparently does so without any show of repentance or in change of behaviour.

Justin Trudeau knows the company’s history as do all other members in the Canadian political and business landscape. David Lametti has replaced Jody Wilson-Raybould as Attorney General and Justice Minister. We can only wait and see how good a company man he is. We all know what Trudeau wants for SNC-Lavalin. I’m sure Lametti does as well.

So, how good a company man is Trudeau?

During the Harper era, Peter MacKay, at that time Defence Minister, with Stephen Harper leading the charge, had set about to purchase fighter jets setting their sights on the F-35s made by American Lockheed Martin, the most expensive and best flying machines in the market. Unfortunately, Harper and MacKay bungled the procurement process never able to satisfactorily settle on what the costs would be for the purchase of the 65 jets except to guesstimate anywhere from $9 billion to $19 billion though critics were doubtful saying the costs were likely in the $25 to as high as $125 billion range. The liberals were outraged, Trudeau loudly declaring, as is his wont, he would “never” as prime minister, do the deal. Well, in early May, he was reconsidering, planning to hold an open bid to replace the creaky CF-18s. The move however left US officials warning Canada that as one of the F-35 partner signatories of 2006, there was no requirement committing signatory nations to reinvest in Canada using Canadian suppliers for parts which, at present, is the standard for most military procurements. Trudeau, admitting Canada could not consider an open bid with one bidder (Lockheed Martin) effectively shut out, has hinted he is prepared to make changes to the procurement requirements. It seems that even this good Canadian company man has fallen under the spell of the Cadillac of jets in the same way as did the Harper gang and may be prepared to throw Canadian parts suppliers under the bus. It should surprise no one.

When it comes to the neo-liberal agenda, conservative and liberal politicians really are the same.

***

But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. —  Benjamin Franklin

HATRED: THE VICTORY OF IGNORANCE AND FEAR

Hatred is the coward’s revenge for being intimidated. – George Bernard Shaw

America needs fewer men obsessed with erecting fences of hate, suspicion and name calling.– William Arthur Ward

Frank A. Pelaschuk

January 29, 2017, Quebec City, Canada, mosque – 6 dead, 8 injured

August 11-13, Charlottesville, Virginia, white supremacist rally, one protester mowed down by car driven by neo-Nazi, 2 police helicopter pilots responding to protests killed in crash 

March,16 2019 Christchurch, NZ, two mosques– 50 dead, 50 injured

And many, many others

Who are they? What kind of people are they?

To call them crazy, lowlifes, morons, sickos, twisted, is too easy, pat phrases that appear to explain or excuse away the enormity of the acts as if such can be excused or easily explained. They are signs of society in deep trouble, fearful, angry, suspicious, intolerant and racist. Not all the far too many mass maiming and murders are racially motivated but too many are while too many of us stand on the sidelines shrugging and tut-tutting: What can one do, that’s the way the world is today. It need not be. 

Following each event racially motivated or not, the reaction is much the same: immense shock, profound sorrow, public aroused, much naval gazing, the rote denial of “This isn’t us”, race to the scenes, instant memorials, embraces, tears, prayers. Pundits pontificate, media endlessly replay images of shocked, grieving survivors, politicians politic railing against violence and hate with varying degrees of sincerity or, as with our own Maxime Bernier, stunning silence which about sums up all one needs to know about him, and racists retreat to the sewer for a day or two or take to the web until the outrage wanes. A few days, weeks, back to business.

Not all mass murders are racist white supremacists nor are all white supremacists murderers, but too many are. Those that aren’t kill in other ways dehumanizing those they fear and hate, targeting them online, harassing them on public streets, on buses, in restaurants and lineups, in schoolyards and at work. Haters seldom work alone, they need the encouragement and approval of other cowards or authority figures to fuel their fear and fury attacking people who have done no harm to them or theirs, whose only crimes appear to be their religion, the colour of their skin, the clothing that they wear, the place of their birth and country from which they have come. Mass murderers, including racists, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, likely do not know their victims and have no desire to know them; to do so is to admit the possibility of their humanity, the possibility they may not be all that much different from us and, therefore, not to be feared, hated or blamed. It could be that those who come here from a distant elsewhere do not want what is ours but rather what we all desire and believe are the rights to which we are born: life, security, freedom. What is there to fear from people who are forced to leave the country of their birth only because the life they have known has become intolerable, brutal and unsafe offering no possibility of better simply because of their political beliefs, their sexual orientation, or that they are women wanting only to be recognized as free and independent as any man? Racist haters will not contemplate such a possibility for the risk to their worldview is too great. Could it be possible that all they believed and were fed was and is a lie? If that foreigner, especially the illegal, one more reason to hate and fear him, is not to be blamed, then who is? 

For that is the crux. Haters are of a kind. They likely believe that those foreigners, those asylum seekers, those just looking for a better life are steeped by the same awful emotions of envy, anger, fear, suspicion, and desire that poisons themselves and therefore are a threat. Haters do not know these foreign immigrants, these asylum seekers, these illegal border crossers, these people of many languages and shades. Numbed by unknown terrors and made dumb by inarticulate rage and lacking insight, all haters are blind to reality and to facts that conflict with their worldview, a worldview distorted and malign where they, the haters are victims, and those they maim and murder, men, women and children, are the guilty not only because they are different but also simply for being. Such seems to be the sentiments of Australian Senator Fraser Anning who, in the aftermath of the March 15, 2019 murders of fifty and the maiming of another fifty plus Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand by another Australian, tweeted: “Muslims may have been the victims today; usually they are the perpetrators.” He further claimed, “The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.” His was the racist touchstone employed by all his ilk; the great, godless bogyman. Weeks earlier, Anning, had evoked the holocaust with his anti-Muslim stance saying, “the final solutionto the immigration problem is a popular vote.” That’s a racist speaking. And one who likely knows his audience. His statements are so far removed from reality as to be derisory were not the outcomes all too often so predictably tragic. During a media scrum, seventeen-year-old, Will Connolly, standing behind the senator, committed what I consider a very sensible and brave, if not heroic, service by cracking an egg on Anning’s noggin, thereby informing the world that Anning was a man clearly too shameless and stupid to know when he has egg on his face.

But that is how haters work. The big lie, the great fear. They lie to others and themselves. That is not to say that terrorist acts are not committed by foreigners but, as in New Zealand, in the US and Canada, they are often home-grown whites, racists or not, feeding off each with their simplistic, unimaginative slogans telling themselves their white lives are under threat by immigrants, feminists, politically correct politicians, pro-abortion anti-Christian anti-family values bleeding heart socialists, Big Media and fake news, and Big Government and Big Unions. They repeat these stories so often they have morphed into caricatures of barely sentient beings goading each other with stories of greater outrages, real or imagined, by enemies of their perfect way of life. The rage and hate grow, inchoate and formless, without character, coherence or even a glimmer of intelligence. They embrace their ignorance, their fear, and are steadfast in their unreasoning refusal to not only see but to accept or even consider the possibility that any differences can enrich, enliven, and enhance too wedded to an unauthentic cult of victimhood: they are victim and everyone is out to get them. Yet, if pushed, they would find it difficult, perhaps even impossible, to articulate what it is they fear and hate without exposing themselves as ridiculous, if frightening, uninformed conspiracists blind to their own failures and failings.

The sad part is, the victimhood in which they bask, is often buttressed by those whom we elect.  

Donald Trump, who has much to answer for regarding the rise of white terrorism around the globe, has given licence to this sense of victimhood inflaming the fires of fear and the spectre of terrorism at almost every opportunity branding Syrian refugees as terrorists and Hispanics as illegals, criminals and rapists. In response to the Christchurch massacre, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, unwilling to offend his fan base including Ezra Levant’s vile, racist, anti-immigration publication, The Rebel, for which Scheer seems to hold a special fondness, bravely tweeted a tepid, generic, all-occasion at-the-ready tweet: “Freedom has come under attack in New Zealand as peaceful worshippers are targeted in a despicable act of evil. All people must be able to practice their faith freely and without fear.” A short time later, shamed for not stating the victims were Muslims and the place of worship mosques, Scheer bravely sent out another tweet. As for libertarian Maxime Bernier, founder of the new what’s-its-name party, not a word. The thing is, both parties, led by Scheer and Bernier, seem to hold a certain appeal to racists, bigots and haters from which neither seems willing to disassociate themselves. Votes are votes. They take them anyway they can. 

The United Conservative Party of Alberta, led by Jason Kenney, an ex-federal minister who possesses an understanding of truth far different from me, recently accepted the resignation of star candidate Caylan Ford after private communications came to light highlighting where her sympathies lay in certain areas. 

In a Facebook posting following the Charlottesville, Virginia attack which led to the death of a young woman protesting the white supremacist rally, Ford said the following: “When the perpetrator is an Islamist, the denunciation are intermingled with breathless assurances that they do not represent Islam, that Islam is a religion of peace, etc…..When the terrorists are white supremacists, that kind of soul-searching or attempts to understand the sources of their radicalization or their perverse moral reasoning is beyond the pale” ( https://pressprogress.ca/ucp-candidate-complained-white-supremacist-terrorists-are-treated-unfairly-leaked-messages-show/March 19, 2019). 

In other words, there’s a double standard, the poor white supremacists as victims! Then, typically of such ilk, further commenting on her resignation, she blames PressProgress accusing it of “colluding” with the source of  the material supplied, “a man who, for over a year, has waged an obsessive campaign of intimidation, harassment, and defamation against me…PressProgress has shown itself to be utterly without regard for truth or decency” (Calgary Herald, Shawn Knox, March 19, 2019). In other words, she was misquoted. But, let’s give her her due: when called out, Ford did condemn the targeted shooting of Muslims in Christchurch, NZ. It just took a nudge. Maybe it’s just me, but I still see a bigot and an ex political candidate playing the role of victim. Sure, I may have said those things but why should you hold that against me? Too many hold that attitude; unfortunately, conservative parties and their leaders don’t hold it against those types, that’s their base and pandering is preferable to offending with harsh criticism against racial and religious intolerance. Votes are votes. They take them anyway they can. In politics, shame is for losers.  

But haters who turn killers want more than life, security and freedom…many of them want to be famous but possessing neither skills, talent, ambition, intelligence, not even a scintilla of imagination, go about achieving it the only way they can: mindlessly destroying the very ones they fear, envy and do not understand because they, the killers and haters know to the core of their dark, cold bitter hearts that those they kill are unwitting testaments to their own mediocrity. They, the sad, pitiful collective of nobodies measure up to nobody except other mediocrities wallowing in their own victimhood of the mind embracing the hateful myths lacing the messages of Fraser Anning, Caylan Ford, and ex-MPs Kellie Leitch and Chris Alexander who many may recall were members of the same party Scheer leads, adjuring us to rush to the special government snitch line to report any “barbaric cultural practices” we happen to notice committed by those godless immigrant Muslims.

Racist haters see immigrants and asylum seekers as law breakers and threats, as people who have made it only because of government largesse and a natural tendency of Canadians to see only the good in others. We are too kind, too forgiving, too lenient, haters say, more willing to help them, those foreigners,than our own. The haters refuse to see, let alone acknowledge, that the “successes” by immigrants is by dint of extremely hard work: learning the ways of a new culture; learning a new language; getting an education; holding down two or three jobs and pooling the wages, resources and unified efforts embodied in the abiding love of family and friends. Haters are losers and know it. It’s easier to pull someone down than raise oneself up. For some, “Success is simply a matter of luck.” Unfortunately, haters never read to the next Earl Wilson line: “Ask any failure.”

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But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.—  Benjamin Franklin

TRUDEAU VS JODY WILSON-RAYBOULD: POLITICS CHEAPENED

Fraud and falsehood only dread examination. Truth invites it. – Thomas Cooper

Frank A. Pelaschuk

The February 27 testimony offered by liberal Jody Wilson-Raybould to the Justice Committee, if compelling and revealing and likely very damaging to the Trudeau brand, does not appear to offer sufficient reason for Trudeau to step down notwithstanding conservative leader Andrew Scheer screaming from the sidelines for Trudeau’s resignation and for the RCMP to be called in to investigate. The former Justice Minister, with her own credibility issues regarding conflict of interest breaches, came across as confident, articulate and, most importantly, as a truthful and reliable witness seeming to contradict much of the February 21 testimony of Michael Wernick, clerk of the privy council and the most senior bureaucrat in government

Wernick came across as candid and open about his dealings with the former Justice Minister regarding SNC-Lavalin and possible harmful consequences should the Montreal-based construction company face the courts and be found criminally guilty of bribery and fraud. However, while proving himself loyal and vocal, he was not particularly effective because of his partisan asides in his defence of Trudeau and the liberal governance. Claiming that no undue pressure was exerted on Jody Wilson-Raybould by himself or the PMO to intervene in the SNC-Lavalin case, Wernick asserted that if the former Justice Minister believed otherwise it was simply a matter of misperception on her part. The knives were definitely out. 

While he came across as articulate, intelligent and confident, if not arrogant, his was the demeanour far removed from the perception of the public functionary often imagined, quietly and silently toiling in some dark, dank dungeon ensuring our government operates efficiently and effectively. Often passionate, even aggressive at times, he did himself damage when raising legitimate concerns about foreign political interference and security issues by resorting to inflammatory rhetoric with claims that usage of the words “traitor” and “treason” led to the real possibility of assassination. This is  the politics of fear and passing strange for one who holds the position not of politician but as public servant and who must, by virtue of his job, maintain an attitude of neutrality. Wernick, experienced bureaucrat as he is and as he kept reminding us with his thirty-five years of service, failed miserably to convince this viewer that the PMO was not working desperately to convince Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the prosecution case against the company. He was holding to the party line to which he should not be a member working to undermine the credibility of Jody Wilson-Raybould. It was her word against their word. Wernick is no mere humble but talented bureaucrat but an ardent, unabashed Trudeau liberal booster worthy of an appearance in Babbitt. 

Interestingly and most telling, moments before Wernick’s appearance, Committee member conservative MP Michael Cooper sought to have those testifying before the Justice Committee take an oath and thereby held liable to perjury charges should they lie under questioning; the liberal majority wanting none of that voted it down five to four. It was clear that the investigation into the Jody Wilson-Raybould/SNC-Lavalin matter would be guided along party lines, the liberals circling wagons around the PMO and the opposition MPs scoring points: they wanted that gotcha moment. If the truth was to be exposed that day, or any day, it would be by accident unless Trudeau waived the attorney-client privilege hamstringing the former Justice Minister and Attorney General. Trudeau did, Feb. 25, with restrictions: confidentiality was waived regarding her role and those with whom she talked about prosecution options for SNC-Lavalin for bribery and fraud but she would be restricted from speaking publicly as to her communications with the Director of  Public Prosecutions (DPP), Kathleen Roussel. Jody Wilson-Raybould was free to talk but limited in what she could reveal. Even so, she had a lot to say and say it she did. That was enough to get Scheer to squeal like a pig on ecstasy. Resignation! Police! Almost levitating, certainly salivating, Scheer and his conservative colleagues, trembling with faux indignation, shrieked (and no one shrieks louder than Candice Bergen) of preserving the independence of the courts and that of the Director of Public Prosecutors and maintaining “the rule of law” extolling the virtues of Jody Wilson-Raybould a liberal member whom just weeks before they would gladly have eviscerated. It seems they have forgotten their years of silence as members of Stephen Harper’s regime when the conservatives sought to stack the Supreme Court against “activist judges”. Conservatives are not only stupid, like all partisans, they have a quick forgettery that highlights the fact. 

Missing from the debate is the question of morality, integrity, the ability to experience shame. The conservative members are not standing up to corruption. They simply want to score points and take down the liberal government and to replace them so they can do the same. As long as jobs are safe, promises are made and people embrace the lies, it apparently doesn’t matter what politicos corrupt and corrupt they do. The wants and needs of special interests must be accommodated regardless of the effects on society, our laws and our democracy; just don’t don’t it loudly so as to be noticed. Voters are to be used, politicians purchased, Big Business allowed to make the rules. SNC-Lavalin has a sordid history of corruption. Allowing it to plea bargain with hefty fines, admission of guilt, changes in organizational structure and the reimbursement of unlawful benefits is not sufficient. It hasn’t worked in the past and it will not work now. I, too, care about the nine thousand Canadian jobs as much as the next person but not at any price. If companies go under, so be it, there are others willing to step in but now in the full knowledge that we mean it when we say no bad deed goes unpunished, even corporate deeds. Bad businesses do not change; they only seek change to laws or of those they cannot buy.

But this is politics and doubtless similarly played in all western democracies. Jody Wilson-Raybould seems to be the ammunition that could topple the Trudeau government mortally wounded by one of its own. The conservatives and NDP today fall all over themselves to embrace her as honest, absolutely truthful, fearless and a beacon of integrity which she well may be none really questioning why she has done her party as she has. Was she getting back at Trudeau for her demotion because of her failure to do what Trudeau wanted of her? While she may be telling the truth, and I believe she is, I do not buy that hokey “I am a truth-teller” line she offers and her First Nations supporters feed us as if to suggest as an absolute of nature inherent to indigenous peoples. Where was her voice of objection when Trudeau held those many, many secretive exclusive fundraising events with Big Business and foreign millionaires and billionaires? Why did she not stand up to him when he shamelessly publicly turned on his own electoral reform promise? What of her own conflicts of interest breaches? 

“I am a truth-teller”. Well, it sounds good. Better than that throw-away line she offered saying she had attended the fundraiser sponsored by lawyers not as Justice Minister but as a liberal member. If people cannot be trusted on the small things, and I don’t think conflict of interest breaches small, I find it difficult to trust them on the big things. But, hey, that’s just me. I accept her testimony but not unreservedly.

During her testimony, she had stated that in regard to the SNC-Lavalin matter, she felt the PMO had crossed the line but admitted no laws had been broken. She also believed she was removed from the justice ministry to the Ministry of Veterans Affairs because of her refusal to do what the PMO wanted from her: intervention in the SNCE-Lavalin matter. So the question remains: was she retaliating for her demotion from a post she clearly loved? Unsurprisingly, Trudeau responded swiftly, saying he completely disagreed with her “characterization…of these events.”

There is little doubt that the then Justice Minister was under considerable pressure to intervene in the SNC-Lavalin matter to spare the company from facing the courts and the possibility of conviction for bribery and corruption. Such a conviction could prove costly not only to the Montreal-based construction giant but also to its nine thousand Quebec workers whose only wrong seems to have been working for a company with a history of corrupt practices. For the liberals, the line has been that the ultimate decision was hers, that no one from the PMO had “directed” her. That’s a feeble defence smacking more of legalese weasel verbiage than a firm stand for “the rule of law” Trudeau kept dredging up whenever questioned on the Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s arrest on the request of the US but, however tenuous, is given credence by Jody Wilson-Raybould’s testimony when she says no laws were broken. There are ways of “directing” without spelling it out. Trudeau knows that as well as we do.

Trudeau cannot be trusted. He has proven himself of fluid ethics, evasive and unashamedly ready to break promises. He loves the glitz and image of grand promises and grand gestures but, when all is said and done he is a straw man who accepts free gifts and breaks major promises, such as that of electoral reform, going through the motions by creating a committee, which he initially sought to stack, to look into it, then, declaring Canadians had lost interest, proceeded to undermine and then drive a stake through the hope because the committee failed to make the recommendation he favoured. His months of denying his many secretive private fundraising efforts with foreign millionaires and billionaires further demonstrate he is untrustworthy and untruthful. His efforts to help SNC-Lavalin by leaning on the Justice Minister is just one more nail to the end of his sunny, sunny promise.

While I do not trust Trudeau or the liberals, I have even less hope for the Scheer gang who are mostly members of the old Harper gang who were as overbearing and deceitful as this liberal mob. The shoe in on the other foot and the sides have switched positions they once opposed, detested and derided. That’s not just politics, though it is politics; it’s hypocrisy and a clear demonstration of the dearth of integrity possessed by both sides. I cannot speak of the NDP simply because they have never led this country but I suspect, overtime, they too would succumb to the corruptive allure of power. Thus far, that has been the purview of only two parties, the liberals and conservatives who have swapped places and positions since Canada’s inception, two faces on the same coin melding at times into one. Next election will offer nothing new, just another swap of the same old same old.

While it is understandable and acceptable the liberal government would want to preserve those jobs (Scheer’s conservatives would be no different), it is not understandable nor acceptable that governments would pass into law DPAs (Deferred Prosecution Agreements) that would allow corporations to escape criminal verdicts. What makes this even more offensive is to claim that other democracies have done this and that Canada is late joining the party. No company, and that includes one with a very dirty past, should be allowed to be considered “too big to fail”. That SNC-Lavalin was successful in its lobbying efforts suggest that the liberals disagree. When the conservatives form government, they will defend DPAs as staunchly as the liberals. 

Canadians and their government have no duty assure the survival of rogue corporations by assisting them in their bid to escape punishment for their depredations. Yet, that is exactly what DPAs allow: governments to abet criminals escape justice. Now some have said admissions of guilt, hefty fines, restitution of funds unlawfully claimed, restructuring, and denial of doing business with cash cow governments for ten years (the standard around the globe it appears) is not insignificant.  Perhaps not. But it’s not justice when individuals without the wherewithal can be sent to jail and corporations get raps on the wrist for doing the same thing with corrupt executives escaping justice because well-paid lawyers know how to work the system or because of “unreasonable” delays in prosecution. 

Even more worrisome, have been rumours of Trudeau’s government quietly tweaking the DPA provision so that punishment is less onerous for corporations: time from doing business with government would be reduced from ten to five years and some have even suggested a reduction to six months!

It was clear from Jody Wilson-Raybould’s testimony, notwithstanding Trudeau’s relentless mantra of focusing on jobs, that the real concerns of liberals were on the Quebec and the upcoming federal elections. In other words: it was and is all about getting re-elected and saving SNC-Lavalin was and is an essential part of the plan to that end. What’s good for SNC-Lavalin is good for the liberals. Tomorrow it could be the turn of the conservatives. 

It is a sad fact that governing parties are less concerned with the interests of Canada and Canadians than in their own continued hold of power. Harper and his gang were that way and the liberals are no different. Sovereignty and the rule of law all too frequently seem to be side issues for governing parties. Apparently, the prime minister and his crew were unaware that the Director of Public Prosecutors plays an independent role. Perhaps it’s time that the  Minister of Justice and Attorney General be independent as well with a neutral non-politician taking the dual roles. The law must not be toyed with or shaped to the fashion of the day. Yet Trudeau, and Harper before him, have implemented laws that allows for such abuses. 

Trudeau has long ago betrayed the promise of newer and better, of openness and transparency. He is no different from Harper and I am tempted to say of both and their colleagues they are just another set of “cheap” politicos but I am of the same mind as Laurence J. Peter who opined, “There’s no such thing as a cheap politician.” He’s right; the cost of electing liars, cheats, people without integrity who respect neither democracy nor the “rule of law” or even voters, is far too high a price to pay. But, in the end, whose fault is this, really? Theirs or ours? 

Had Trudeau accepted the recommendation proposed by the Electoral Reform Committee, the next election might have offered the answer. When only two parties with little to distinguish them have governed the nation, one cannot be surprised that complacency has taken root. It is a rotten system and we are part of it.

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But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

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They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. —  Benjamin Franklin

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